Babette Bloch used to sculpt in bronze but decided years ago that stainless steel was more to her liking. "It catches the light at different times of day and different seasons. The work lives and changes," Bloch said.
Her new installation at Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, "Steel Garden," proves the wisdom of her choice. The striking centerpiece of the exhibit, "Magna Steel Magnolias" — a 20-feet-by-9-feet laser-cut piece mounted on a brick wall in the museum's courtyard — shifts in color and texture depending on the angle at which it is viewed.
From a second-floor window, the magnolias resemble dancers, and they reflect the brightly colored chair-and-table sets nearby. Up close, one can appreciate the illusion of depth created by the sanding disc Bloch uses when she creates her works at Ram Specialty Welding in Naugatuck.
Three more floral displays — of American beauty roses, sunflowers and tulips in vases — also offer an illusion of depth in the bent and twisted metal. The vase works are part of a series of multicultural floral exhibits. "My goal is to create a whole United Nations of vases," said Bloch, who lives in Redding.
Bloch's most spectacular work, however, is about a half-hour south from the Mattatuck off of Route 8, on the lawn outside Enterprise Corporate Park in Shelton. Bloch re-created Leonardo da Vinci's "Vetruvian Man" in a 16-feet-by-13-feet water jet-cut construction showing the shifting position of da Vinci's perfect man.
It is composed in a triple-layer construction to give the man a sense of depth. Again, the stainless steel adds to that sense of depth and movement.
STEEL GARDEN by Babette Bloch is at Mattatuck Museum, 144 W. Main St. in Waterbury, until Aug. 31. "Vitruvian Man" is at Enterprise Corporate Park in Shelton permanently. http://www.mattatuckmuseum.org and http://www.babettebloch.com.