BackGround: Karla received her graduate and undergraduate degrees from Western Michigan University and has done post degree work at Wayne State University and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Karla has been a faculty member of the Kalamazoo Valley Community College and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Karla has been a guest lecturer at Western Michigan University regarding "Women In The Arts" and has conducted a Patina Workshop for the Sculpture Department.
Karla Wyss Tye: In her own words
Wyss, 67, studied painting at Western Michigan University, and was originally inspired by Georgia O’Keefe. She earned her MA in Watercolor Painting. Wyss won the Gwen Frostic alumnae award from Western Michigan and was selected to place one of one of her sculptures on campus. She also has a public sculpture at The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
She turned to casting Bronze when her husband, sculptor William Tye, established a foundry on their front porch. Her earlier work was predominantly organic. But as her children grew, so did her style. Drawing her inspiration from her two daughters, both professional dancers, she merges the human figure with birds.
“Birds are symbolic of our soul.”
Her work is not necessarily gender-biased. The figures are, however, predominantly female.
She claims, “You cannot hide from your art”. “It is a visual representation of who you are. It intertwines with your likes and your dislikes. It comes out of life experiences and the ones most familiar to you”- birds, in Wyss’s case.
“With the passing of time- we develop spiritually as we move through our lives. As we do we become more aware of ourselves”.
Raised Catholic, Wyss was inspired by the artwork of the church as a child.
One of Wyss’s pieces titled Odile (O-deal) currently featured at The WARD Gallery is of Odile, the black swan in the ballet Swan Lake. She has 5 other works at the gallery.
Her latest sculpture reaches twelve feet high. It is currently in the foundry and is expected to be completed soon. Titled The Evolution of the Spirit, the piece was inspired by her daughter’s dance choreography. “I also draw from my son- in-law who is a professional opera singer”. She interprets it as a moving totem pole. Two birds and two figures.
“The older you get, the more and more you contemplate your spiritual existence and what happens next”
“I knew this man once, who laughed at my birds...he said birds don’t have shoulders.”
“You take from one side. And then from the other. And blend the two together.”
“Birds are an important mythological symbol that have persisted since ancient times to the present day. Because of their wings, birds are not bound to the earth but are free to explore the heavens. Freedom to fly is the reason why birds have been chosen to represent our spiritual self, our soul, that part of ourselves that knows no boundaries and is a part of something larger, which allows us to dream, to create and explore the mysteries”
Interview by Zoe Faylor and Kate Scott. of WARD gallery, June 2009