My quest to find the first EDM wire artist
For the last couple of years, I have been telling people (in the most humble way possible), that I might be the only EDM wire artist, in the world. I knew I wasn't the first, having acknowledged the work of Judith Brust, but I could not find evidence of her working much with brass wire, after the early nineties. Then, as I typed this very post, I found her new website, which showcases her painting portfolio, as well as some large-scale EDM wire gallery installations. Not sure how recent that work is, but it's awesome. Judith Brust is definitely a next-level EDM wire artist.
Closing in on the most elusive EDM wire artist
Cindy Luna is more of a mystery. I was introduced to her work a couple months ago, after a North Carolina customer told me about her. He had assumed I knew her work, since mine was so similar. I immediately pulled up her website, and I was somewhat stunned by what I saw:
Decorative wire balls that looked exactly like mine, alongside wire baskets, bowls and nests that looked like they came straight from my own shop. I noticed she also had a long career of exhibitions and shows in galleries across the country. I was told Luna had basically "fallen off the map," in the nineties. Her site hadn't been updated, since 2007, and there's very little written content there, which probably explains why I never found her through google searches related to wire artists.
I had to learn more about this woman. In the meantime, I asked my North Carolina guy to please send me one of the many Cindy Luna pieces he'd collected, over the years, and he obliged. When I received the six-inch wire ball, I was astonished. It looks a lot like something I made, but I wasn't sure it was EDM wire. It might be stainless steel, but it doesn't matter. The bottom line is that Cindy Luna was making, in the late 1970s, what I had claimed to originate, some forty years later. To be clear, I never said I was the first person to make a wire ball. Most balls made from wire, however, are made from steel, copper, or something else with memory. I simply made the observation, after scouring the internet, that I couldn't find anyone using hard brass wire to make them. Between steel wire and brass, both the process, and the end result are quite different.
What was Luna's process? Had she spent as long as I had, perfecting the perfect system for producing consistent balls and other shapes? In the end, I guess it doesn't matter how she did it. But the real question was, is Cindy Luna still producing art? Is she even still alive? To find out these answers I turned, once again, to Luna's website, where found a list of galleries representing her. I emailed one of them, in Hawaii, inquiring about her current status. Someone from the gallery returned my email, stating Luna lived on a Hawaiian island, in the jungle, completely off the grid, with no electricity or internet connection. Luna, they told me, only emerges a couple times a year, when she delivers some art to the gallery, before disappearing back into the wild.
All of this was exciting, unbelievable news, to me. But the fact that Cindy Luna was, in all likelihood, the first EDM wire artist, became overshadowed by the story of Cindy Luna, the person.
Artistically, Cindy Luna and I are very similar. Our exploration of material and technique allowed us to (independently) perfect processes for making various shapes from brass wire. The fact that she lives off the grid, and I don't, is the first point at which the two of us probably differ, in our business approach. Maybe, one day, if I'm in Hawaii visiting the gallery that sells her stuff, I'll be lucky enough to catch her in the rare act of dropping off some new pieces. Expect another blog post, if I do!