Artists Among Us: Artist Profile - Dorothy Frankel


"Circle of Peace." Bronze All images courtesy of artist

Continuing with our artist profiles of artists both living and working in the Hamptons, our next artist is Dorothy Frankel, who lives in Sag Harbor.

Artist Dorothy Frankel with one of her sculptured 'dogs' and the real thing, her camera shy pal, "Billy." Photo by Eileen Casey

Sag Harbor - Dorothy Frankel was raised in northern New Jersey, and her family is from New York City. As a child she went to the City frequently, and attended George Washington University for a few years, studying pre-law and political science. She then shifted majors and studied in England. Returning to the U.S. she went on to graduate from the University of Maryland, with a B.S. in Kinesiology, and then received her Master's degree from Columbia University, in Exercise Physiology. Frankel declares that "Being true to oneself and living a passionate life gives one health, and when art
became my passion - I went for it."

In her mid-20s, she began "to make things" and attended the Sculpture Center, National Academy of Design and Urban Glass, and then studied in Pietrasanta, Italy.

Frankel explains "I started my career in the early 1980s sculpting figurative pieces in wood from trees, followed by abstract pieces. Then from scrap wood I found in woodworking shops I created more refined abstract pieces and furniture."

"In 1986, my work underwent a radical change and I began working in clay. I was attracted to terra cotta because of the variety of colors and textures it offered and the richness and depth of different clays. I also like the ease in molding it and using my hands and not tools to create the sculpture."

"Relief 650" 2008, Terra Cotta Sculpture.

Frankel indicated "I often used different clays in combination with each other to achieve dimension through color and surface texture. By doing this I create a natural, guttural depth and deep emotional expression. My work gives a strong feeling of connection to the earth. Also, I think my work is about harmony, balance, having the heart lead softly, so we connect oneself to others and all beings.

"I create 3-D abstract and figurative works referencing anatomical forms, animals, and nature, as well as simple geometric shapes. Some pieces were cast in bronze and in stone. I have, over the years, added wall reliefs, giving a textured dimension. I have continued to use unglazed terra cotta as my primary medium; at times I glaze and paint the pieces."

Continuing Frankel elaborates "The threads that weave my sculptures together are the bonds between nature and spirit. The evocation of these relationships gives the work serene and contemplative tones, offering viewers a visual sanctuary and opportunities for reflection. The surface is worked to obtain a variety of forms that elicit sensory messages to beckon viewers to experience each sculpture by touching it with their fingers and eyes. My work has a range that is accessible and positive."

"Friends Talking" 2000, Terra Cotta Sculpture.

When did you start making art and what medium(s) do you consider to be your roots in art?

Dorothy Frankel: I started in my early 20s when I moved out here, I started in wood, trees, found wood, scraps, then wood again, then shifted to terra cotta and cast in bronze, also acrylic, steel, and at one point glass, but mostly terra cotta.

What is it about the Hamptons that brought you here and enticed you to stay, work, and pursue your art here as opposed to some place else?

DF: Beauty, water, sweet, beautiful, easy town, the large variety of artists, health food access, and a gay life - easy.

"Peace" 2008, Painted Fiberglass.

How do you support yourself as an artist?

DF: Through direct sales and commissions.

Why live and work in the Hamptons as opposed to elsewhere?

DF: The beauty and light is breathtaking. Each day getting up to a beautiful home and garden, walking in Morton [Wildlife Sanctuary], interacting with the wildlife, taking my dog, Billy, to the ocean and being able to be there by ourselves. These interactions influence my work, and my sense of peace and harmony. Also there are very interesting people here to have great dialogs with, which influences the content of my work.

What local environmental or historical aspects of the Hamptons do you relate to that may be reflected in your medium?

DF: Again, all of the above - ocean, Morton, nature and more nature, expanse of views, light, having a house, yard, people, good community, artist community of writers, activists, political conversation, theater, live music - healthy slant.

What artists do you feel have influenced you and your work?

DF: Michelangelo, Rodin, Camille Claudel, Barbara Hepworth, Degas, Henry Moore, Beverly Pepper, Noughi, Brancusi, Magdalena Abakanowicz, April Gornik, Eric Fischl, Edward Albee, many writers and so many others.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holding "Thumbs Up" - a 2007 Frankel sculpture presented to Clinton as an award sculpture from Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy.

What advice would you give an emerging artist?

DF: Explore lots of mediums, learn from the master artist, don't short cut. Technique - as it is the key to understand so you have the freedom to express yourself - stay focused - and keep the passion.

What gives you an edge (if any)?

DF: I am true to myself with my work. I have not gotten into the rut of showing only one body of work. I am eclectic and I celebrate that. All the figurative, or wall pieces to abstract sculptures are a part of me, and when one sees that here, at my studio/garden, I think one feels my contentment and willingness to be true to art. I work hard and continuously, I push and am open to new methods.

"Three Dogs And A Cat," 2006 Installation in Carl Schurz Park in New York City, bronze.

I am emotionally available so my work has that depth, and I have created a magnificent environment for myself that feeds me. It's a sanctuary. That's critical for me as I need a lot of quiet, surrounded by beauty and nature, animals, as well as the walk in Morton feeding the birds, rabbits and turkeys. That is why I can not be in NYC. I don't always get it right but I am learning what nourishes me so I thrive more than not. Accepting and knowing yourself, and letting yourself be.

What are you working on now, and are you involved in any upcoming shows or exhibitions?

DF: I am working on a few commissions and I am also showing at Fells Sculpture Park in New Hampshire. I am also working on enlarging some of my work for monuments. I mostly show here as I have a sculpture garden and studio, and it is a very good way for people to see my range of work in an actual studio garden setting. On Aug. 22, we are having an event here with Bob Zellner - "Salon Des Artistes" to benefit the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

"Reunion Camp" Terra Cotta. (link to article in

 To view more of Dorothy Frankel's work, visit the following websites at, or email at