News Blog

July Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight is a monthly highlight of the work, process and artists featured in the Office of Cultural Affair’s Public Art Registry.  The Public Art Atlanta National Registry serves as the preferred list for soliciting artists for major and minor public art commissions and direct purchases of artworks for the City of Atlanta, while also serving as a qualified professional Public Artist list for additional commissioning agencies.  Currently the Registry boasts full portfolios and resumes of over 300 professional public artists and is dedicated to expanding the scope of public artwork in Atlanta.

This month’s artist spotlight is Corrina Sephora   


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Corrina Sephora began her life-long interest in metalworking at the age of five in her father’s workshop, where she was introduced to the art of boat building. In 1995, Corrina went on to receive her BFA in Sculpture and Metalsmithing from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. She then moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she has since established her own studio, specializing in sculpture, furniture, and architectural works.

Corrina’s personal work often uses the imagery of boats and ships as metaphors for life experiences, and as story-telling tools. The boat form is a vessel and magical symbol for transition, while the ocean represents mystery and power, and the ebb and flow of the past and present.

In 2005, Corrina received her MFA in Sculpture from Georgia State University. She has taught on the college level, and presented at national and international blacksmithing workshops and conferences.  Her prestigious metalworking awards include “Best in Show” from Annette Cone-Skelton of MOCA GA, Silver Award from Icarus International, Silver Sculpture Award from NOMMA, and a number of other awards. Corrine’s metalwork is on permanent display in Atlanta at the Martin Luther King National Historic Site, The Atlanta Botanical Gardens, King and Spaulding’s Contemporary Art Collection, Temple Sinai, and many private collections internationally.  She continues to exhibit in museums, galleries, and public art venues.

How would you describe yourself and your work?

I am a metal sculptor. I am a full time working artist of paint, paper, and metal.  I am passionate about creating artwork and make it my first priority. Art provides an access to work out many hurdles that arise in life. For instance, I made a goal early in life that I would travel and see many parts of the world as well as maintain a studio ‘home base’. Recently I have felt that my experience of  ‘home’ was disjointed.  In response, I created my most recent sculpture on exhibit in the Gallery 72, “Voyageur qui son nid” (“the traveler seeks a home”).   It depicts my experience — a ladder with roots that spread far and wide. The ladder reaches nine feet into the air to hold a nest in the form of a boat. For me the sculpture represents my experience of being ‘rooted’ in Atlanta while having a wide reach around the world in other communities and countries.

The moquette for this piece was created while at an artist residency in Mendocino California. The large-scale version was then built in my Atlanta studio.  Metaphorically, I see that while I am ‘rooted’ in Atlanta, my life is ‘multi-coastal’ and I am creating home and community in locations around the world, near and far. I love being at art centers to work, live and teach within that community at different times.  So in the creating and being in the thought process, anxiety can be resolved and new ideas can flourish. I am now at peace with being a world a world citizen and see a future of creating an artist residency of my own design.

I am a social being – someone who loves to share with others -teaching studio assistants, mentoring the youth, and collaborating with other artists in the community. I also love to spend time alone thinking, dreaming, and creating new realities for myself and art from research and imagination.  I love spending time at the ocean and at the mountain’s rivers, lakes, and streams. I am at peace when near the water, at peace with the emptiness and fullness of nature.  I am an artist who is a believer in making a living as an artist.  I have multiple streams of income inside of being an artist and recently have created an ART MENTORSHIP PROGRAM to work with artists who are ready to take their art to the next level.


Your work seems heavily influenced by the ideas of sea travel, migration and expansion. What is the root of this fascination and meditation on these themes?

My grandfather was a sea captain for the Dutch royalty, he would take us on sailing trips when he had time off.  Upon his retirement, he would build miniatures and ships in a bottle, and I would sit by his side while he created these pieces.  I loved to hear his stories of being at sea and my imagination would flow freely voyaging to some of those far off places he would describe.  The Vikings who sent their dead off to sea, as a funerary exit to the next world, led to the creation of the walking boat sculpture – a vessel for a voyage to the next world.  For me, the walking boat was the vehicle towards the creation a new life after great loss and huge changes here on earth.

It was built ten years ago as part of the Exhibition at Eyedrum.  I named it, Super Novae. My sculpture professor George Beasley suggested that I adopt a boat theme and I have done so for a decade. I use the boat form and water as a point of departure, a meditation in the making.  Water is another primary theme of my work. Hokusai, the Japanese printmaker known for the Great Wave and his awe of nature has a big influence on my love of water. The Zen emptiness and nothingness that is so full of life and expansive in nature washes away my worries when in its presence. I began referencing Hokusai and his wave in large sculptures of giant waves.

There is a prevailing theme in one of the rooms at Gallery 72, I call it the Water Room. There is a painting on canvas, a painting directly onto the wall, and a waterline that flows through the eleven paintings of the FLOWING AS WATER faery tale. Water is healing, meditative, and flows.  As we set the disparities, worries aside, they flow as water.


What made you choose Atlanta as your home base for the past 20 years and how has living in Atlanta influenced you as an artist? What locally based artist has inspired you and your work?

Initially, plain and simply, I was tired of the cold in Boston, New Hampshire and Maine. I distinctly remember the early spring day.  I’m riding my bike home from the studio in Boston, hit black ice and tipped over. There I am, lying on the street, declaring, ‘It is time for a change!’  Soon after, I helped a friend move to Atlanta.  I enjoyed that it is a city with culture, nature and industry, and has space to spread out. I also was fascinated that this is the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.  There is a long history of metal and blacksmithing.  A revival of the artform started in Atlanta nearly forty years ago and spread worldwide to create such organizations as ABANA, Artist Blacksmithing Association of North America

In 1995, I moved to Atlanta and set up internships and jobs.  I worked with six companies in a self created apprenticeship program. I worked in places ranging from one person artist studios to industry leaders such as American Boa with over 200 employees. I was the first and only woman ever hired in the history of the company as a certified welder. All my work was x rayed and stamped.  My stamp was W 1.  Later I realized that was WOMAN 1, as opposed to M 236.  I planned to stay two years and then move to the west coast.  However, in those 20 years so many roots have taken hold with friends, collectors, students and my business that I continue to stay, thrive and give back as well. Over those years, my work has been influenced by   many other local and international artists, particularly Amandine Drouet, Terri Dilling, Susan Ker Seymour, Radcliffe Bailey, Curtis Patterson, Michael Murrell,Maria Artemis, and Toby Martin.   Clearly Atlanta will always be a part of my ‘home’.


Tell us a little about you creative process. What does it take to bring a sculptural form from mind to matter? How do you choose the symbolic forms that bring individual voice and distinction to your work?

My work begins as thoughts translated to drawings.  The drawings are then developed into paintings, blue prints, metal sculpture and sometimes, collaborative projects.  I was inspired by the books of Leonardo Da Vinci and his drawings, many of which lead to sculptures and large scale paintings. In the studio, I use the elements of earth: air, water wind and fire.   The combination of these divine elements is where the magic happens…metal is heated, forged, formed and welded into structures that become sculptures and dreams become reality.  I use some traditional blacksmithing techniques and a few high tech techniques like waterjet cutting, and many techniques in between. I work with companies from industry and with studio assistants- creating teamwork by adapting to the skills and abilities that others bring to the table.  I enjoy going to a residency to recreate by myself, meditate, and experiment with my creativity to tap into other spaces.


You have created public art for the city of Atlanta (Iron work for the MLK Natatorium) and been the recipient of City of Atlanta Contracts for Services arts grants (Currently finishing a book project funded by a city grant). How would you describe these experiences and their impact on your career as an artist?

I have been honored to be the recipient of this grant a number of times and used the proceeds to create multiple projects and exhibitions. Also, I have served on the selection panel for a competition.

I have organized and curated an exhibition of 36 artists from the Southeast. The exhibition explored the artists’ lives and their reactions to Hurricane Katrina -one year after the storm. The Bridge Show honored what had occurred in the lives of people touched by the Hurricane Katrina and was inspired by the 30,000 refugees who came to Atlanta after the storm.  In essence, a ‘bridge’ was created between the two southern cities.

The show was exhibited at the B complex. The show was moving, working with the artists was amazing and it felt so important for them all to have a voice. I also participated in the Show and created a 20’ boat sculpture made of wood from New Orleans and Atlanta.  As a performance piece, the boat was lined with Hurricane Katrina clippings from the Times Picayune newspaper and invited people in to create dialogue.

I have also created a project with Annette Cone Skelton in her annex project space. We collaborative project for the space and create something more experimental and out of my comfort zone. This project used alternative materials rather than only metal and incorporated qualities of femininity and softness.  I created a collaborative group and exhibition called “the FriendSHIP project”.   Our main members were Teri Dilling, Amandine Drouete, Susan Ker Seymor, Alyson and Ann Rowles, Susan Cipcic and myself.  The exhibition was well attended and our collaborative energy went on for two years creating large scale indoor and outdoor works of steel, cloth and mixed media in Atlanta.


What upcoming art projects would you like to share with the public that excite you?

This August until November I will be exhibiting sculpture, installation, paintings and prints at the  BRAHM Museum. I was selected by a curator in North Carolina, and there are four other sculptors in the exhibit from the southeast.  I am participating with YES Atlanta in their “My Dream of Peace” youth project. The purpose of the art exhibition will be to express appreciation to past Nobel Peace Laureates and to offer inspiration to potential future winners. Young artists may paint anything they wish in order to express this theme in their own ways. A hundred countries are invited to participate, and we hope Atlanta kids will lead the way.  I am looking forward to the Mid South Sculpture Alliance meeting in Atlanta and I will have one large scale sculpture on exhibit and possibly a few others. I am currently working on a smaller wave sculpture created all out of non ferrous metals, mainly copper for a beautiful private garden and fountain area in Emory, North Druid Hills neighborhood. I have created another larger wave sculpture that was designed especially for the Decatur art way…those plans are still underway and I will know soon what is so with that project.       We have several exhibits scheduled and have applied, nationally and internationally, for many others.


To view more of Corrina’s work, click here.