Bert Gilbert has been creating objects since he was a kid, spending countless hours in his father's tiny basement workshop. Toy boats, wood carvings, and elaborate alarm systems created to keep his sisters out of his bedroom were his specialties.
Bert received a BA in Sculpture and Painting from Indiana University in 1983, then allowed many years to pass artistically fallow while creating a family, home, and remodeling business. When he turned 50, after years of “tromping down other creative paths” he decided it was time to return to the sanctuary of his youth, making art.
Invigorated by the amazing iron casting workshops at Sculpture Trails of Solsberry, Indiana, Bert discovered an instant affinity with working in metal that was probably forged in the steel mills and smelting plants of Northern Indiana where he had spent his college summers.
Bert works in many mediums and allows for the need of a piece to define the medium he uses. Lately, however, it is metal that has most fascinated him with its malleability, structural capabilities, durability, and surface textures. Using recycled iron for casting, scrap and reclaimed steel on welded pieces, and repurposed, salvaged building materials in his mixed media works, he strives to understand the inherent language in the history of these recycled items.
He says, “Strong design is important, but I want something more, something that questions. I generally use images and forms which seem somewhat familiar to the viewer as an invitation for a dialogue with the piece. By modifying these forms, I try to propose questions to encourage the viewer to consider the complexity and duality of all efforts and decisions. It is within these contradictions that I find glimpses of greater mysteries.
In my recent pieces, I have been casting more and more packing materials in my sculpture. This detritus of our online consumer culture, with its soft corpulent forms, seems an apt metaphor for the empty opulence of consumerism and surely a bellwether for future archaeologists defining our culture.”
Watch as Bert pours his work "Transit" at the Solsberry, Indiana Sculpture Trails, Summer 2022.