Cultural Quarterly
Spring 2008
Volume XXI, Number 2
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Nilda Comas
Art Speaks Clearly and with Compassion

By Susan F. Davis

Most artists love their work – the process, the medium, the message.  Nilda Maria Comas is no exception.  This prolific sculptor sees her work as a gateway to compassion and human understanding.  Once you speak with her and hear her voice, it becomes crystal clear that this woman lives her art and the message she hopes to impartNilda comas.

Born in Puerto Rico, Comas grew up surrounded by art and artists.  “It was always there,” she shares.  Her father had a master’s degree in fine arts, and her two brothers also work in the arts.  “We were surrounded by it, and we grew up with that love and appreciation of all mediums.” In 1974, when she graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, she discovered Pietrasanta, Italy, a renowned artisans’ community.  There, she gradually, honed her skills in sculpture.

“I never really knew I would become a sculptor, but I knew I would be an artist,” she goes on.  “Choosing one medium over another is born from experimentation.  It’s simply finding a language for what you have to say, and for me – I was just more comfortable with sculpture.”  As a matter of fact, it was so obvious to everyone – her teachers, her friends, other artists – that she returned to this country and enrolled in The New York Academy of Figurative Arts, where she received the highest scholarship they offered.  Then she graduated with honors, a master of fine arts degree and a specialization in sculpture.  The rest, as they say, is history.

It is true that many of Comas’ best-known sculptures are of children.  She has been able to capture both the whimsical nature of childhood and the masks children often wear to hide their personal pain.  Her statues of children seem to live and glow with a life of their own.  She infuses them with an energy which they cannot help but reflect.

Nilda ComasBut, it’s not only children who fascinate her and provide her inspiration.  It is the human form.  She strives to create “a three-dimensional commentary on the human spirit.”  In the catalog for an exhibition in Pietrasanta, Comas writes, “Fine art which is well-conceived and well-executed leads us all to become more compassionate, as the figure communicates to the viewer a clearer understanding of what it is to be human.”  And so they do – whether it is the sculpture of a woman who is sad and melancholy or a sculpture of a young woman with attitude and style.

The work of Nilda Comas is suffused with symbolism and metaphorical value.  The beauty of this marriage of images is that it allows the viewer to see what he or she needs or recognizes – whether it is political savagery or the beauty of justice.

Comas will tell you quickly that she has no favorite medium for her sculptures.  Many are done in marble; some in bronze; and others in clay.  “It is the subject matter which dictates the material,” she reveals.  And, she knows from the very beginning of the work just which one she will choose.

Additionally, this versatile artist paints in oils.  Each painting has a particular theme which is illustrated within the subject matter in the style of the Old Masters.  She says that her paintings are a classical style in a modern painting.  It is this style which she teaches in her studio in Fort Lauderdale.  She has students of every age with whom she shares the language of art, a little art history, techniques of oil painting and her own love of seeing the world as a treasure trove of artistic possibilities.

Today, Comas divides her time between Pietrasanta, Italy, and Fort Lauderdale.  This has been her pattern for the past 28 years.  When she was a young girl, she and her family visited in Broward County, and simply fell in love with the area.  “It was warm and welcoming,” she states.  “And, it has been an area of great support for us artisans.”  When in Italy, she has an apartment in the historical district.  Her students often travel with her to Italy to continue their education.

Recently, Comas received her second grant from the Broward Cultural Division.  With her first grant last summer, Comas was able to take 10 children into her workshop and teach them the basics of drawing, painting and finally sculpting.  This year, the grant will allow her to reach 20 children in her workshops.  “These opportunities for the children just wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of the Broward Cultural Division grants,” Comas shares.Nilda Comas

The work of Nilda Comas is everywhere – from a city park in Fort Lauderdale to private collections all over the world.  When asked how that makes her feel, Comas replies,laughing, “I just never really think about that.  I’m too busy planning what I’m going to do next!”  And for that, we are grateful.  This kindhearted, artistic visionary should do more – and more and more!  It will be her gift to the world and certainly to all of us.

Nilda Comas welcomes visitors to her studio, located at 207 SW 5th St. in Fort Lauderdale.  You can contact Nilda at nildamcomas@yahoo.com.