Wouterina (Riana) de Raad
wisconsin arts board artist fellowship award winner, 2000
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I have been a working artist in various media for the past 33 years. Currently, I am working on life-size concrete mosaic statues in the tradition of American outdoor folk art.
My inspiration for these statues comes both from my past--growing up on my parents' coffee and rubber plantation in the midst of the Indonesian jungle, where the customs of a very rich culture mingled with my Dutch heritage--and also from my daily experiences living on an old farmstead in America's dairy state. That's why you can find yourself in my gardens sitting on a chicken chair or a mythical flying mermaid, or a fish or panther bench. My love for the country and gardening and my passion for creating environments has guided me to create outdoor rooms with concrete figures that light up walkways to fountains and animal and human-shaped birdhouses or benches. In the evenings, when the figures light up, one is transported to a magical place.
I like for my statues to provoke imagination, to look naive and old, as though they have been here for many years. Beauty, function and longevity are my main objectives. Most statues have a welded steel frame and two layers of a metal mesh for strength, followed by one or two layers of concrete. To make the mosaics, pottery shards, glass, pebbles and various other objects are applied with a tile adhesive. Most pieces are finished with a grout.
Six years ago, I gave up the security of a full-time job to focus more on expanding the statue gardens that, I hope, long after I am dead will continue to give joy to people.
Attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 1973-1977 (Major: Fine Arts)
Presently sculptor and gardener, The Magic Garden Company
Beldenville, Wisconsin, 1995-present
Wisconsin Arts Board panelist, 2002
Recipient of Wisconsin Arts Board grant, 2000
De Raad's work has been featured in the following publications: Minnesota Monthly, Midwest Home & Garden, Country Gardens, Folk Art Messenger and Minnesota Horticulturalist, among others.