Artist Becky Gottsegen sculpts the human condition

The old and the beautiful

Local sculptor Becky Gottsegen confronts the modern obsession with youth and beauty head-on, using talent, clay and a contagious sense of humor.

Asked to explain her work, Gottsegen quotes author Marina Lewycka’s “A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian”: “I thought I would write something profound about being human, but I ended up winning a prize for comic fiction. The human condition is funnier than we think.”

Gottsegen agrees.

She thought her sculptures would portray the aging process as something poignant and sad. But her “Lillian” obstinately refused to hide behind a beach towel. It seems “Lillian” was not embarrassed by the ravishes of gravity and time.

Instead, it became obvious to the artist that “Lillian” was having a glorious time being old. She was proud. She knew who she was, and she was NOT apologizing that her once glamorous body had become saggy and baggy. She had earned the right to be old, to have a few wrinkles, to dye her hair and to have some wicked fun.

Gottsegen says she became fascinated with this Lillian.

“Some women are so afraid of age. They plump up and fill-up and cut up in obsessive fear of loosing their youth and happiness,” Gottsegen says. “And other women are so confident and happy. They do not notice or give importance to their aging bodies and are comfortable with growing older.”

That difference in attitude became the focus in her art.

Originally a graphic artist, furniture designer and shop owner, Gottsegen and her husband moved to Baton Rouge in 2006.

She had rented a ceramics atelier in New Orleans and had bought 200 pounds of clay to start life as a sculptor when Katrina swept through the city and left the studio, and a lot of clay, under six feet of water.

Today she has a workshop in her new house in Baton Rouge in which she sculpts almost daily, making old-age absolutely enviable.

Humorous, whimsical, original and fun, her works will make you stop, stare and smile. They grin in their bathing suits with perky, sassy in-your-face attitudes. You just know that Lillian, Luigi and the other “Beach Buddies” are about to have martinis by the pool and tell a few naughty jokes. Their party has just begun.

Gottsegen recently won the “Cups of Creativity” for ”The Girls,” a bra she created for the “Bust Breast Cancer” fundraiser benefitting Woman’s Hospital Foundation, and sculpted masks for the Surreal Salon at the Baton Rouge Gallery on Jan. 25.

To see Gottsegen’s works, go to beckygottsegen.com.