Cadence Giersbach in her studio with sculpture

I make painted paper pulp sculptures, ceramics, and abstract paintings inspired by my experiences as a gardener working with earth, rocks, and organic matter. As I tend to my backyard meadow, I gather sensations to channel into the work, which describes a verdant, potent terrain. My interest is in the materiality of the landscape–its texture, weight, pattern, and gesture–and the associations it evokes. The garden is a metaphor for life’s intensity, beauty, and precariousness.

My work in sculpture has developed organically after years of creating site-based paintings about human intrusions into the natural landscape. In those earlier paintings, I reflected on the landscape as a vista, an image on a picture plane. Once I began to garden, I was no longer a tourist but a participant. Nature was suddenly materially alive and multi-sensory, and my need to describe that experience through sculpture became clear.

The sculptural forms I build are reminiscent of rocks, celestial orbs, seed pods, tree branches, and snakes. Sometimes I add cups and mirrors. For me, pods and stones are spheres that represent invisible potency, while a snake or a branch is a gesture, connecting parts and energizing the whole.

Paper pulp, like mud or clay, is viscous until it hardens like stone. I mold the wet paper pulp over armatures, pushing and pulling this blobby stuff into animate form. Unlike clay, which has precise technical requirements, paper is freely improvisational. I can form it, paint it, break it down, and begin again, always working to expand the constraints of the materials to create larger, more complex forms. 

Pieces are built from the floor upward, like plants growing toward the sky. Some are tabletop size, while others are nearly as tall as me. Surfaces are coarse and ragged, like a pasture, a mountain range, or a leaf. I use color and pattern to add visual dimension; applying paint in loose gestural brushstrokes, dashes, and lines adds to the emotional tenor. Paint drips and flows down the rough texture of the form like streams in the landscape. My intention is always to animate an object, to coax it into expressing the abstract story it contains.

These days when I paint, I work on unprimed, unstretched muslin that undulates like a landscape. Abstract images represent fields, stones, rivers, plants, and earth. Sometimes, I fold the paint-soaked fabric to self-print an area or sew on elements like piping, straps, and fabric shapes to expand the work’s physical presence and give it more dimension. Like the sculptures, these paintings are about the experience of being in nature as much as looking at it.


Inspired by the materiality of the natural landscape, Cadence Giersbach (b. 1966, New York, NY) creates abstract paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. Giersbach earned a BA from Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY); an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ); and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Skowhegan, ME). The artist has participated in exhibitions at P.S.122 Gallery (New York, NY); White Columns (New York, NY); Glyndor Gallery, Wave Hill (Bronx, NY); P.S.1 Center for Contemporary Art (Queens, NY); Museo Rufino Tamayo (Mexico City, Mexico); Brooklyn Museum of Art (Brooklyn, NY); Galerie Faurschou (Copenhagen, Denmark); Kunsthalle Nürnberg (Nürnberg, Germany); Roebling Hall (Brooklyn, NY); Venetia Kapernekas Fine Arts (New York, NY); Deitch Projects (New York, NY); among others. She is a recipient of awards and fellowships, including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship; a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting; MacDowell Colony Fellowship; residencies at P.S.122 Studio; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; MacDowell Colony; Cité Internationale des Arts; and Nordisk Kunstnarsenter. Giersbach’s work has been commissioned by Arts for Transit, MTA (Brooklyn, NY); the Town of Montclair (Montclair, NJ); Percent for Art (Queens, NY); the Palladium Co. (West Palm Beach, FL) and is in the public collections of the Albright-Knox (Buffalo, NY); Harvard Business School (Boston, MA) and the RISD Museum, (Providence, RI). Giersbach lives in New York, NY, and Sullivan County, NY.


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