American sculptor and draughtswoman. She had no formal art education but from an early age enjoyed making useful domestic furniture, such as shelves and cupboards. After moving to live and work in New York in 1952, she became involved in the arts in various ways, taking classes in leatherwork and pottery and, through her job at the Henry Street Settlement, coming into contact with dance and theatre. In the 1960s she attended performances and Happenings at the Judson Gallery and Judson Church and herself performed in two of Claes Oldenburg’s Happenings (1962 and 1965), which influenced her. At this time she was making various sorts of sculpture. She began making the work for which she became known in the 1970s. It typically comprises wooden pyramidal/ziggurat-type constructions, made by stacking horizontally layered steps. An early mature work is Hollow Core Pyramid (plywood, 0.61×0.61×0.61 m, 1974; Glen Ridge, NJ, Levy priv. col.), for which the inspiration was an unwrapped mummy, which she found intensely ‘beautiful, haunting and evocative’; she wanted her own work to have a similar quality. Other early works for which she is known include Curved Pyramid (0.99×1.52×0.46 m) and Stacked Pyramid (2.60×3.96×1.20 m; both treated fir, 1973; New York, Michael Klein Inc.). Stacked Pyramid was her first outdoor work. Her many large-scale public works include Castle Clinton: Tower and Bridge (cedar, 0.33×0.61×0.36 m, 1979; New York, Battery Park) and Meeting Place (1989; Seattle, WA, Convention and Trade Cent.), a lobby area of concrete and slate floor, with steps and platform, and concrete and steel seating. All these works are characterized by Ferrara’s meticulous craftsmanship and their reference to generic types of non-Western building, such as those of Mesoamerica and Egypt, and to geometric form. Works by Ferrara are in the collections of the County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, MOMA, New York, and the Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk.
From Grove Art Online
© 2009 Oxford University Press