Mimi Herbert has been actively drawing and sculpting for decades, drawing inspiration from a lifetime of travel and study. Herbert takes particular care in knowing her materials intimately to create a body of art that swells with possibility and potential interpretations.
One of Herbert's longest running and most fruitful projects stems from a long-standing interest in sculpture created with heat-formed plastic. With the help of a small team of assistants, a sheet of acrylic is heated to a precise temperature and then quickly twisted and folded before it cools and solidifies. With only thirty to forty seconds to sculpt her compositions, Herbert relies heavily of preliminary sketches and paper models to simulate responding to the material's exigences during the crucial moments of creation.
Herbert's practice with acrylic sculpture has evolved as she has experimented with piercing the original sheets, or coloring them with symbols and other found designs. Her series of Flag Twists has been especially well received. The series is fraught with the complexity of the troubled patriotism of a first generation pacifist. However, as Herbert recognizes, the works are open for interpretation as they are "sculpture first and political statements only peripherally." Other examples include twisted architectural drawings, simple abstract etched patterns and plainer solid colors. When successful, her works toy with the contrast between rough etched design and smooth translucent sheet-plastic as the whole piece changes in intensity as the natural or artificial light of its environment morphs.
Herbert's 50 years of exploration with acrylic sculpture has been interspersed and informed by years of drawing, printmaking and forays into other materials such as bronze and unfired clay. Mimi Herbert has lived, worked and studied in the USA and overseas. In Indonesia from 1990 to 1995 she conducted research and field work in West Java for her book, Voices of the Puppet Masters: The Wayang Golek Theater of Indonesia, published by the Lontar Foundation, Jakarta and the University of Hawai'i Press in North America in 2002. Her drawings appear in the book.
She has lived and worked in India, Pakistan, Haiti, Brazil, El Salvador and New Zealand. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery, the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga and numerous private collections in the USA and overseas.