As a child, Lois Teicher had a knack for ceramics and other creations that would later lead to a long career as a sculptor. “It’s been kind of a life force,” said Teicher, who raised three children before earning a degree from the College for Creative Studies (CCS), where she taught for a while, too.
Eventually, she wanted to work on a larger scale. “I had an interest in public art, where women don’t get paid 30 percent less, because a budget is a budget,” she said. “I try to encourage other women to go into public art. There are lots of opportunities and I think women are particularly good at it. You have to look at the site to create something one-of-a-kind and that takes different skills.”
Teicher, who has spent more than three decades in the field and is currently working on a private commission for a local home, serves as the perfect role model. “There are not a lot of women sculptors,” she said. “It’s important to have these images done by both men and women. The viewpoint is different, and I think there needs to be a balance.”
Over the years, she has been featured in many exhibitions, including the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham. The award-winning artist, who lives in Dearborn and was born and raised in Detroit, where she has a studio in the Eastern Market district, has learned a lot along the way. Early on, she did a site-specific piece for the Scarab Club in Detroit.
Her bonnet sculpture for Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville was one of the most difficult she has ever done. The 30-acre site features pieces that reflect pioneer times and her bonnet sculpture was the only one representing the challenges and contributions of women. Its trailing ribbon was an especially complex part of the process for Teicher, who has fabricators for larger pieces.
Another impressive sculpture she did after winning a competition for a site-specific piece at Bishop International Airport in Flint looks like a paper airplane. “People are often stressed when they travel. It’s about the internal and the external and stillness and movement and it has a playful aspect,” she said.
More recently, she gifted a piece called “Dynamic Tension” to the city of Birmingham that had several potential locations for a sculpture.
“I was allowed to pick the site I liked the best,” said Teicher, who went with the one in front of Anthropologie. “I loved the site – that already had an existing concrete pad – but I did not want to block the window.”
Sometimes, her intuition leads the way. “I just felt that piece would work there. It has some color, but it’s not large. There is a tension in terms of concept,” said Teicher, whose interest in time and space inspires her.
Her themes often stem from her search to understand and connect to the universe and she hopes viewers will share in the experience. With art, the feedback is part of the fun, like a comment someone made about her Birmingham sculpture that it looks like the sun over the ocean.
“My hope is to be inspirational and to add something positive to a community, where a rich cultural environment brings excitement,” said Teicher. “Sculpture is a quiet performance that can enhance them in some way.”
Story: Jeanine Matlow
Photo: Laurie Tennent