MAKING A WISH ARTISTICALLY SCULPTOR CREATES
AN IMAGE OF NOSTALGIA WITH SIMPLE WISHBONE
Friday, June 21, 1996 Section: Peninsula Living
Mercury News Staff Writer
Step through ''Broken Wishbone'' - the 9-foot tall
bronze sculpture by Lori Kay - and, suddenly, you're innocent
again, filled with secret wishes and a sense of wonder. On display
at the Mountain View Civic Center Plaza through Sept. 3, the exhibit
is not just another piece of public art to admire from afar. Run
your hands along its varied texture. See its bold stance against
the bright blue sky. And dare to reach into the break. For all
of us who have ever pinned our hopes upon the slippery grasp of
a dinnertime wishbone, this sculpture is a chance to recapture
that childhood magic. For Kay, 34, who lives in Burlingame, the
wishbone is a gateway into ''part of our American cultural heritage.''
In the cool shade of the civic center building, the award-winning
artist spoke recently about her work, her life and the sculpture
she spent a year making.''The wishbone is nostalgic of my childhood.
I have fond memories of breaking wishbones in my family. It's
a symbol of Americana to me. It's also about the duality of life:
Sometimes our wishes come true. Sometimes they don't.''To become
an artist and to be able to make a living as an artist is a wish
that has come true for Kay, through her own perseverance and talent.''My
parents, who were warm and loving people, taught me to march to
the beat of my own drummer,'' says Kay, who grew up in the Bay
Area and painted as a child. This spirit of independence is a
family trait. Her father, Macario Mendoza, was a Filipino-American.
Her mother, Virginia Moore, was a Southern belle. A state law
in Virginia, where they were living, prohibited interracial marriages
in the early '60s. So Kay's parents held their wedding in Washington,
D.C. and then lived apart for sev eral months before moving to
California, where such marriages were lawful. Kay's mother died
last year. ''My mother was my No. 1 fan,'' Kay says. ''She went
to all my openings. Through my father, I've been exposed to a
lot of great Filipino art. My family is important to me. I feel
lucky I have a huge extended Filipino family.'' Kay earned a bachelor
of arts degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in
1986. But it was in Europe, where she saw the great works of art
by such sculptors as Rodin and Michelangelo, that she found herself
drawn to sculpture. Art, she says, ''is the way I fulfill my need
to create, to work with my hands, to communicate with others.''
Her works of art express a range of ideas. In her bronzed egg
series, Kay used the egg as ''a symbol of life. It is the place
from whence we all came. The perfect example of fragility and
strength. Of life and death . . . ''Once broken, the shelter is
lost and the raw self is exposed. Without the break, the being
contained within can never develop. Only through the break can
we develop into a unique being.'' Race and racism In another project
called ''Half-breed,'' Kay explored the concepts of racial identity
and racism. ''What if you reject the idea of 'race'? It's a sociopolitical
construct, invented to divide people. Race for me does not exist.
So I interviewed people of mixed race and put their quotes on
footsteps.'' Kay, who is skilled at casting her own sculptures,
is proud of the fact that ''Broken Wishbone'' was cast by a crew
of female artists at a San Jose foundry. ''It was a major casting.
I did all the welding. And all the networking to have it shown.''
Kay is as successful in managing her career as she is in creating
her art. ''You have to be,'' she says. ''I look at it as surviving
in the arts.'' She has lectured at the University of San Francisco,
San Francisco State University, Mission College in Santa Clara
and at UC-Santa Cruz. Her work has been displayed in various Bay
Area cities in galleries and public art exhibitions. She also
sees herself as a teacher of art, to both children and adults.
Expressing oneself ''Through art, we learn to understand the greater
world because it transcends language. It's a way to help children
express themselves and to problem-solve. ''When we talk about
the glory of ancient civilizations, we don't admire their acts
of war. We talk about their architecture and their art.'' In the
fall, ''Broken Wishbone,'' which was previously displayed in Oakland
and Half Moon Bay, will travel to Western Carolina University,
where Kay will be lecturing. From there, Kay will go on to Sydney,
Australia, to conduct a lecture and a workshop. ''I have always
loved art,'' she says. ''And I will always do art.'' PICTURE:
Photos (4) (box) Familia Center, 711 E. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz.
Call (408)-423-5747. 9 a.m.-noon, 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. (box)
Grey Bears, 2710 Chanticleer Ave., Santa Cruz. (408) 479-1055.
8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. (box) Valley Churches United Missions,
9340 Highway 9, Ben Lomond; (408) 336-5651. 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Friday,
and 10 a.m.-noon Saturday; also.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS