By Suzie Khalil
Working primarily in Bonded bronze, Hirschman authors volumes of dimensional commentary on the dynamic of human interaction. Attracted to the study of the individual experience within social contexts, Hirschman situates thinly rendered (barely three-dimensional) figural heads atop tall metal rods. The playful nature of Hirschman sculptures is realized immediately through arrangement of his pieces. His figural sculptures can be situated in a multitude of possible juxtapositions, each offering a new spin on what happens when individuals are in proximity. The dynamic systems that Hirschman recognizes in our world are elegantly maintained in his bronze manifestations.
Hirschman sculptures are characterized by a bold style that is highly confrontational and highly conceptual. The result of Hirschman's "in your face" figurative sculptures is an indelible impression on viewers.
The main body of his work explores different situations such as small and large gatherings, the role of leaders and followers, the masses, the thinkers, how the sexes view each other, and the slow march of civilization in modern societies.
By Mary Thurman Yuhas
Ari Hirschman is as unique as his artwork. After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., the self-described tecky assumed he would follow a traditional business path. During his college years, the young Hirschman had worked in the computer industry and planned to follow a career in the same field. "I love science," Hirschman said. But once in the business world, he quickly learned it wasn't what he had expected. "I never was able to fit into a normal work routine," he said. His solution was to work harder but he says, "I was always trying to fit into Ari's world."
Hirschman was very successful in the burgeoning computer field, and he says that caused him to struggle even more as he attempted to make sense of his dissatisfaction.
In the early 80s, Hirschman took a sabbatical. He competed in bike racing all across the country and nationally ranked fourteenth. "I like to push the limits on pretty much everything," he said. A year later, his cash nearly depleted and his enthusiasm for the sport ebbing, a reluctant Hirschman returned to the work place. Hirschman continued to climb the corporate ladder but it became painfully evident to him, the computer world was not where he belonged. "I wanted to escape from the confines of the computer industry." His watercolor painting, "Back to Work," depicts the inner conflict he was experiencing.
A chance enrollment in an art class was an epiphany for Hirschman. The man who had doodled and drawn since he was a little boy at last recognized and released the artist inside him. In typical Hirschman style, he dove into his newly discovered passion and was consumed by it. He devoted hours and hours to countless classes learning techniques and how to draw, paint and sculpt figuratively. Once he mastered these skills, he progressed to more contemporary artwork and worked with watercolors for years because he wanted a looser style. Twenty years later the artist says, "My intention is never to end up with something that looks like a photograph." Hirschman says, Joe Meyers, an artist and one of his instructors was a powerful influence. Hirschman says that Meyers opened his eyes to the philosophical aspects of art and he said, "He taught art versus technique."
Hirschman began showing his work in juried art shows and was very pleased with the reception he received. "They were placed focally in good locations at the galleries," he said.
In 2004, Hirschman quit his computer job to fully concentrate on his art and moved to Boca Raton, Fla. with his wife Laura and their three young children. He says he moved to South Florida because it has such a mix of people and cultures, which he feels will have a positive influence on his art. He also has family here, and he said, "I value family."
Hirschman thinks his background is a strong influence in his art. The artist was born in Topeka, Kan. but shortly after his physician parents moved back to his father's native Buenos Aries, Argentina where he lived with them and his brother and sister until he was 12.
Political instability caused his family to return to the U.S. and the family settled in the Kensington suburb of D.C. Hirschman found himself in a totally unfamiliar environment where he didn't speak the language, didn't understand the culture, and was very homesick. He had to draw on all of his resources to cope with the huge, painful change. "It was very challenging," he said and "I was not the most social."
Hirschman's art is filled with emotion, whether it is joy or sadness and or his sense of humor, which is impossible to miss. His love of science and fascination with time and space, and human nature are also represented in his art. Hirschman says he thinks of death more than most people and he said, "I'm aware of life's brevity and a lot of my work deals with it," he said.
Recently Hirschman has begun painting with oils because he feels he has more control. When he looks at his finished pieces he says, "I don't know where it comes from."
He sculpts are in every medium but wood. Hirschman is especially fond of bronze because he says it is strong and will last well into the future. His soulful and often primitive sculptures manage to combine the old with the new and each piece tells a story.
After years in the nine to five world, Hirschman is overjoyed to be able to devote his life to art, and he says he feels so fortunate because for him this is as good as it gets.