A Model Display of History's Forgotten Characters

Learning about an artist's creative inspiration and thought process is inherently valuable. And one of the benefits of New York City is a constant stream of exposure to artistic work through galleries, screenings, and other events.

Last month, I had the chance to go the opening night of a pop-up series at First Street Gallery, where my colleague David's work was featured.

  Artist David Siever.

Artist David Siever.

David Siever is an artist based in Brooklyn. He uses his background in history to form the subjects and intrigue of his work. In spring 2017 he completed his Masters in Ceramics at The School of of the Art Institute of Chicago. This spring, he is heading to Australia for a role as Visiting Artist at Australia National University.

A description's of the David's themes:

David does narrative ceramics; combining his interests in history and art to make sculptures inspired by historical events and even more so by the people that history has forgotten, the "footnotes" of history. Focusing on the forgotten protagonists and the disasters which reveal the costs of human desires, human ambition and human cruelty. Through creating sculptures, he hopes to bring these lost figures to life, to have them step out of the photographs, diaries and letters that form the only record of their existence and to let them reemerge in three dimensions.

  'Border Crossing' - David Siever. 16.5x22x5. Ceramics.

'Border Crossing' - David Siever. 16.5x22x5. Ceramics.

This interrelationship of artwork, historical narratives and the "forgotten protagonists" intrigued me. Often, when processing history, the experiences of contemporary individuals help us contextualize the events and better understand them. The addition of visual artwork to that story introduces an added layer of comprehension.

David on his work:


"My art is inherently political and narrative, using the data of the past to comment on the present.  My ceramic sculptures are inspired the people that history has forgotten, its 'footnotes,'. My pieces are small, like the lives they depict; the figures’ lack of color shows them fading into obscurity. All history is construction, a story created to explain a given set of facts, and my sculptures are no different - - they are personal interpretations, as much about me as the overt events depicted.  Desire, ambition and human cruelty form their center.  While the subjects are often tragedies, they also contain the humor inherent in human frailty. I work primarily in ceramics and read extensively on the period in which I am working, searching for stories or images that speak to the emotional heart of the human drama."

The pieces below are ceramics, sometimes with other forms of mixed media. David is on Instagram.

- JG