Omar Shaheed

I talked to Omar Shaheed at “A Point of Departure: paintings by Ron Anderson and a celebration with friends.”

Omar Shaheed, “Man with flute” at “A Point of Departure: paintings by Ron Anderson and a celebration with friends.”
Omar Shaheed, “Man with flute”

Tell me about the piece.

“Man, with flute” is a bronze piece originally carved in stone. I broke the piece because I didn’t want to do a limited edition. I just wanted one piece in bronze.

What is the general process of working with bronze?

First, you make a silicon and rubber mold. Then, you do white which paints over the mold. Once the mold is done, you melt the bronze, you pour it in the mold. Then, you bury it in the earth or in sand if you are inside. Once it cures, you break the mold open and chase it which means you clean it up. It might take you months to chase it. It took me about 6 months to chase this piece to get it to the point where you can begin to see what it is. It might take longer than that. You are not dealing with just you. You are dealing with a foundry. A foundry has a lot of other artists who caste with them, so you must get in line.

If someone wants to view your art and/or purchase your art, where would we do that?

Go to a gallery downtown, or put sculpture by Omar in your internet search engine.

How long have you been sculpting?

I have been sculpting stone and bronze for about 25 years. What you see here is left over from a show I did in Kansas City in 2000 called “the shapes of jazz” in stone and bronze. It was a great show about jazz in the early 1920s.

Do you have a favorite piece?

The last piece that I finish is always my favorite piece. 

Do you have a primary theme for your work?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the series. I just did a series for a gallery downtown on high street called “broken pieces,” which reflects on people and how they are broken. Life itself is broken. I broke each piece that was part of the exhibit, then redid it. You can see where it was broken. I wanted to express how we are broken people. For example, heartaches, death, all the things that happen in life to break us. It took me about 2 years to put the pieces together.

Any advice for those coming behind you?

You must be dedicated. You must want to do this. If it doesn’t come naturally, don’t do it. You will not carve bronze or stone, if you don’t love it. It is just not going to happen. It is too hard.

Anything else?

I love creating art. It is my life line and without it, I am nothing. I love stone because once it is broken, that is it, ain’t no turning back. It presents a challenge and I love a challenge.

Sidebar: I enjoyed learning about the bronze process in producing works of art. Omar Shaheed gave real practical advice. His passion bled through his comments.