098 Elsa Johnson Tarantal


During two decades, the 1970s and the 1980s, our everyday life in Philadelphia centered around children, studio work and ongoing renovations of a small warehouse on Strawberry Street in Old City that provided space for working and living. It was a location with a great deal of commercial activity and a burgeoning art scene. Living there gave us easy access to Penn’s Landing, Independence National Historical Park, and Society Hill.

When our daughter was born at Jefferson Hospital, we took a SEPTA bus down Chestnut Street, past Independence Hall to bring her home.

The main focus of my studio work had always been figurative sculpture, and there were years when our young son and infant daughter were my inspiration. I was able to study them and model wax sculptures at any hour of the day or night.

Also at that time, I had the good fortune of making a connection with a foundry, Harcast Co., located near the Philadelphia International Airport. Typically they made machine parts, however, they agreed to cast my sculpture.

Over time I worked with other foundries in the greater Philadelphia area, learning the processes of lost wax bronze casting. As part of my practice I’ve continued working from life, making portraits using traditional methods and materials, clay, wax, plaster and bronze.

This bas-relief is a study of grandson Jake.