Ann Fleming spent most of her adult life making things with a very clear function. As a professional potter with a Bachelor’s degree from Portland State University and a Master’s from Lewis and Clark College, she crafted colorful functional ware for collectors across the country for more than 25 years. After a quarter century of the physically demanding work, she was considering a switch to bronze sculpture but had one hesitation.
The artist had spent so much time making functional objects—tiles, lighting and the like—that it seemed strange to be creating art for art’s sake. She soon realized that her new sculptural work did have a function: it told stories.
Ann lives in White Salmon, Washington, but she started her career as a sculptor and raised her son Casey in Oregon. She sculpted her first figurative piece in clay in 2004 and had her first five pieces cast in bronze two years later. In 2012, she designed a helped build a house in White Salmon, where she draws inspiration from the dramatic landscape of the Columbia River Gorge and the animals that live in the forest surrounding her.
Almost all of Ann’s sculptures tell stories of humans interacting with nature. “Nara” shelters a deer in her long cloak, a woman gently cradles two birds in “Holding Innocence” and “Perfect Balance” shows a joyful lady gulping down grapes. The women live in a utopia where all beings coexist peacefully and where guardian angels are always there to watch over them.
When Ann started sculpting, she learned that stories could possess powerful utility. Her hopeful tales spread a message of peace.