Helen Braider

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Helen Bradier
Boulder, Colorado - United States




Helen Howe Braider was born a faculty brat, surrounded by books and writers, but was always uncomfortable with the written word, instead drawing constantly and then discovering clay and sculpture.  Under the tutelage of her brother-in-law, an abstract expressionist painter, she went to exhibitions, posed for her portrait and hung out with his artist friends.  For a few years she wandered down the wrong path, studying Latin with the aim of being a teacher.  However, after a year at Goucher College, then three years at Trinity College, Dublin in Ireland, Helen dropped out and found a job working in  the Dublin Art Foundry.  She worked there for three years eventually becoming the head chaser.

At the age of 24, Helen visited her sister and brother-in-law, a minimalist sculptor.  He invited her to join him on a visit to a quarry near his house because he was interested in using stone instead of stainless steel.  Walking between the massive blocks of granite thrilled Helen so much, she decided that she had to learn to carve.  When she returned to Dublin, she immediately signed up for a class in stone at the National College of Art.  The following year she went to Paris with her husband. Besides spending many hours in the museums, Helen found that she could attend the Ecole des Beaux Arts as an etudiante libre - no credit but free access to the Atelier Cardot, with free stone and space.  From that atelier, she could get into the ateliers for drawing and metal work.  Because of the influence of her brothers-in-law, her work consisted of very simple forms, cubes and spheres, very highly polished and clean, but Helen also felt the power of Brancusi's work so usually had a human or plant form as the subject.  One of her wood sculptures from that period was bought by the Arts Council of Ireland, and two stone pieces were bought by collectors in Boston.  

In 1978 she returned to the Boston area with her family.  Helen found studio space first in basements, then at the Boston Center for The Arts, had 2 exhibitions at the Madeline Carter Gallery in Brookline, and a private exhibition at which she sold very well despite a recession.  She also attended classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, became a Teaching Assistant, and then attended sessions at The Carving Studio in West Rutland, Vermont, both as a student and as a T.A.

In 1992 Helen moved with her family to Boulder, Colorado, entering a very different art market.  Her work continued as minimalist figurative carvings in stone and wood,  searching to convey a moment caught in stillness, an expressive tilt of a head, or a quiet lift of a hand.  Then Helen fell in love with the horizon line out to the east.  This became a very exciting problem for her: how to convey that reach into infinity, the immediacy of the experience of the person here and now when there is so much beyond.  The figures had to become tiny (Giacometti's match box), and  reluctantly she admitted that the only way to convey the scale was with painting. 

Currently Helen works to catch the moment that we see others in the distance as they stand in relation to the vastness of the landscape and the sky out west, the endless possibilities measured out in details in the landscape: a tree, a butte, a road stretching away.  She also plays with the illusion of perspective: what is in front, what is within, what is far away, how the particular detail that we might notice in a momentary glance can leap forward and become large.  Also she is interested in paying attention to what has been left behind, the weathered broken remnants of wood, with their own private beauty.  She continues to carve in both wood and stone.  In wood recently Helen has done several pieces referring to Gothic ecclesiastical art: a Mother and Child, and two saints.  She has also done several marble pieces of some simple forms: a wing and a torso, playing with smooth and rough surfaces, the inherently tactile nature of stone carving.  Recently she had a show at Exhibitrek in Boulder Colorado and has participated for many years in Open Studios.