The popular line of Willow Tree fine art figurative sculptures was introduced in January of 2000. The first collection included one figurine, 15 angels, and the nativity set. In the 18 years since Artist Susan Lordi has continued to craft the beautiful figurines that speak for us when words aren’t enough.
Susan received a Master of Fine Arts with honors from the University of Kansas in 1993 and previously taught textile art and design at the university level. When she began her work on Willow Tree, it was her first time stepping away from personalized sculpture creation to designing for the commercial gift industry. Despite the mass market production of her work, it was very important that her sculptures speak to the unique relationship between the giver and receiver.
She wanted her figurative sculptures to celebrate pure form art, in which there are no extraneous details, encouraging her work to be interpreted by the individuals attached to the pieces. Details and emotions are communicated via the gestures and body language of each figurine. In Susan’s own words, “The viewer decides what the piece is really about. I want people to come up with their own ideas of what a particular Willow Tree piece means. I try to keep Willow Tree open. There is no one correct interpretation. I hope that this makes the pieces more accessible, and more personal. I want to present a product that stimulates the viewer’s thinking… that allows the viewer to become a participant in the giving or receiving.”
The uniqueness of her sculptures flows from her creative process. Susan uses live models to inspire her sculptures, a role usually filled by those close to her. Her pieces evoke emotion because her key observations of life and people are captured within her work. She maintains a close connection to every piece and spends an average of 2-3 months working on a sculpture.
For Susan, “every big idea starts as a little seed.” She continues to adapt her pieces, evolving their simple details to include delicate patterns of pierced metal and pressed gold leaf, free-hand surface etchings, and sculptures carved in the round so that every angle reveals a different understanding. Susan carves the way we live, “I carve in the round because we express ourselves 360 degrees.”
No matter the occasion, Willow Tree figurines express your emotion in ways that cannot be spoken, engaging your heart and the heart of the receiver.
About Willow Tree
Providing an intimate line of figurative ornaments and sculptures that speak in quiet ways to display the love of family and the quiet joy that love brings to life, Willow Tree has inspired gift giving since 1999. Artist Susan Lordi hand carves the original of each figure from her studio in Kansas City Missouri. With no facial expressions, these beautiful figurines depict emotion through gestures only… a tilt of the head, placement of the hands, a turn of the body. The simplicity of form and absence of facial features signify Willow Tree.