Wheat Ridge Artist: Debra Sanders / by Jimmy Sellars

By Cyndy Beal

Time passes; seasons change, cities change, yet one of life’s constants is a birds’ habit of sitting on utility wires.

Denver native and long-time Wheat Ridge resident and artist Debra Sanders captures this familiar modern sight with her series titled “Wired,” which features multi-colored glass birds perched on a wire.

“It’s my respite, birds on a wire. It’s one thing that stays the same.  The recognizability of birds perching on wires is a perfect example of the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world.  Symbiotically we need each other and everyday I am reminded of this fact  and how easily it is forgotten when I see the birds looking down from the man made wires and posts"  said Sanders. She described her art and its interpretation of birds as more conceptual than literal. It’s not about field guides and species identification.  "The silhouettes of the birds themselves morph into indistinct shapes or blobs but nonetheless are recognizable because it is a learned and shared experience".  

Sanders is the first featured artist in the Meet the Artist series, offered by the Wheat Ridge Cultural Commission, on Oct. 18 2013.

The glass birds are formed through casting recycled or repurposed glass, by melting the glass down into custom molds (three-dimensional negatives), using a kiln.  The use of recycled glass is important for Sanders creative process as it add a sense connection to place.  The birds often contain inclusions, residue and remnants of the place from where the glass was scavenged.  

The glass birds are then attached to a metal strip that is mounted on a wall. Sanders creates her art works in her Wheat Ridge studio. “Wired” is a creative concept she’s been working with for about a decade.

When asked if there was something she would like people to know before coming to the Meet the Artist event, she replied: “I’m doing this show to support the community. I’m a Wheat Ridge girl.”

Sanders has lived in the west Denver suburbs her entire life. She attended elementary and junior high school in Wheat Ridge and graduated from Jefferson High School in Edgewater.

Sanders said she didn’t always identify herself as an artist.  As a child, Sanders watched her brother creating beautiful sketches and believed  he was the real artist in the family.

Sanders discovered her sculptural niche – or it discovered her – in college. “It’s something that picks you,” she said.

Sanders earned a bachelors degree in fine arts, with an emphasis in sculpture/ installation, from the University of Colorado at Denver -- although she had a double-emphasis degree, both painting and sculpture. She additionally holds a degree in graphic arts from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

Sanders has had several shows in the Denver area. Most recently, this last summer her work was at the Pirate: Contemporary Art Gallery on Navajo Street in Denver, a gallery where she has been a full member since 1999.  

Her work has been purchased by private buyers from around the country. 

Her “Birds on a Wire” installations are on display at the Temple Buell Theater and Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, where she is also employed as an exhibition preparator,  teaches children’s arts classes and house manages the theater.  Sanders humorously called this "The Glass Bird Migration Project.”

For more information on Meet the Artist please go to http://www.ci.wheatridge.co.us/index.aspx?NID=1119

To submit information or ideas on art and cultural activities in Wheat Ridge or Edgewater, e-maileditor@ngazette.com.