Suzanne Biaggi is a sculptor and landscape architect. She studied at the University of Southern California, Laguna Beach School of Art and Design, San Francisco Art Institute and received her MA in sculpture from San Francisco State University with Honors. Biaggi studied art and landscaping in Northern Italy, Japan, and French Polynesia. She has taught sculpture at the University of California, S. F. and Garden as an Art Form at San Francisco City College. She opened a landscape design studio. It began as a design/build practice then it slowly evolved to a design/project management studio. Monumental stone sculpture is a major element in some of her gardens. Her work is included in private collections throughout the country.
The Pod Within
The journey of the sculpture started when I first saw two stones, among many, at Wheeler Zamaroni in Santa Rosa.
My work is normally site specific and commissioned. My methodology has been to select a stone for a particular site. However, these two stones spoke to me, so I purchased them, and they were delivered to my studio. There they languished for 2 years or so. Then I felt it was time to start work on a stone that was not for a specific project. The result I discovered made the work much more personal. Instead of creating a piece for a site and a collector, I was creating a piece out of desire to work with the stone with the belief that the site could be found for it.
When I began working with the stone in 2009 my mother had recently passed away and I was in the conceptual stages for an installation for the Late Show at Corner Stone Gardens in Sonoma. The concept evolved into the “Future Feast in the Garden of Flow/Accumulation”. I decided to use both the stones to head the “feast table” as a symbol of ancient wisdom. Work on the sculpture was not flowing easily. Looking back on the early stages I can see that the piece was more about my personal life than ancient wisdom. During the process of getting ready for the show, working on the various elements of the installation as well as the sculpture with only one month left for completion, I broke my wrist. Needless to say that was the end of work on the sculpture. The two stones went to the show unfinished, but very appropriate for their place. They were understated and quiet, allowing the other elements in the installation to speak.
A whole year was to pass before I started to work on the sculpture again. When I went back, I couldn’t recall where I had left off. It felt very disturbed and somewhat tormented. I began carving, photographing, and writing about the piece. It felt like it was becoming more and more personal. At one point, I thought it might become my life’s work – that I would never finish it. I was doing a lot of carving, which is very slow with basalt, often using small custom hand tools. It seemed like it was destined to be my piece. Even though at stages it seemed finished and very powerful, I kept going, because it was too painful to look at. If I was going to keep it, I wanted something that would encourage serenity.
Then I got a request from Debra Lehane to be in a show honoring Al Voigt. I don’t know why, but I had kept the photo of Al that I had received at his memorial on my desk. I looked at it every day. Somehow the evolution of the piece and Deborah’s invitation merged. I knew that Al was interested in botany. Slowly the shape of a pod emerged from within the piece. The sculpture that started out to be mine ended up as Al’s piece. It seems to synthesize all the issues that I have been concerned with over the years. I don’t think it would have turned out as it did if it wasn’t for Al.