THE SPACE BETWEEN: The Art of Cybele Rowe

By Katie Nartonis

“I live here for the desert’s flat land and the stars.”
– Rowe

Cybele Rowe describes herself as an artist who inhabits ‘the space between.’ The high desert landscape provides a sacred, liminal space between land and sky that inspires her work. A sculptor and a painter, Rowe is well known for her large-scale ceramic works. They require immense physical strength to produce and a massive kiln in which to be fired. The physicality of the process is part of this sacred earth and sky alchemy, and her finished works act as a conduit between these two worlds. I recently sat down with Bel to learn a bit more about her story.

You’re an international artist who is originally Australian and has lived/worked in NYC for 10 years – how did you discover the high desert?

I remember I cried the whole way through the Joshua Tree National Park when I visited in my 20s. I believed this place to contain all the inspiration I needed to work. Perfect weather conditions for concrete and clay work outdoors. I could build up off the land making my own “Locus Amuletum Menhirs” sacred to my space responding to the energy vortexes that are present on my land. I am bringing the Chthonic (Greek for earth, underworld) up into the Ethereal. My sculpture garden is a progression of my work, an evolving environment. When I lived in NYC, the buildings were overwhelmingly grand in scale. This gave me an understanding of industrial scale, and my desert inspires sculpture of human scale. Not dwarfed, but rather allowed to breath in the earth and stars they are created between.

Tell us a bit about the process of firing these epic pieces?

I coil build and glaze my large clay works straight up off the desert floor. I work quickly building and coloring. It may take only a few days for an 8-foot form to evolve. They are single hollow freestanding forms. I have a large kiln I then erect around the sculpture and fire it up to change the chemistry of the clay to ceramic, thus making it a permanent sculpture.

What else do you love about living in the high desert?

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My consciousness is of the desert environment. The space, the smell after it rains, the starry skies, the big moons, the hot pink sunsets and rises., the snowy distant mountains and the giant boulder forms. The blue light in the park before dawn breaks makes me I feel like I am living in my own “terminator,” that space between night and day. And the heat, the relentless cloudless sky of summer, that only inspires potential to work quickly in the drying heat. Lastly the people, I have never met such a wonderful group of likeminded, kind, welcoming and creative humans. The longer I stay the more friends I make.

About the Author: Katie Nartonis is an art and design specialist, writer, curator, and filmmaker who lives in Yucca Valley. Her passion is telling the stories of artists and their work and is inspired by the creatives who live here in the high desert. www.thenartonisproject.com

You may contact Cybele at cybleleroweart.com or email her at cybele@cybelerowe.com

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