by Nancy Stevens-Brown
It is rare to find any artist who illustrates our sport, so when I discover one I get truly excited. Once I saw the enchanted sculptures of Thomas Ostenberg I knew that I must introduce his visionary work to the rest of the vaulting world. So, I contacted Thomas to hear about the deeper significance of these thought-provoking pieces. The similarity to vaulting became even more undeniable. It turns out that American born artist, Thomas Ostenberg, was not always a sculptor. After years of success in the financial world, he shifted his focus to art, seeking to achieve a greater balance in his life. His captivating sculptures are metaphors for that quest for personal balance.
Featured in magazines such as Sculpture, and ARTnews, Ostenberg's distinctive figures seem to abandon natural restraint as they perch on the brink of stability, with delightful form and balance. They clearly convey the tension and precise mental and physical energy that we recognize in our finest vaulters. His animated bronzes lift the eye and spirit up to the moment of perfect suspense. I wondered if Thomas had ever seen vaulting and he insists that the imagery springs from his own imagination.
"My inspiration for the work is really my life. The work is, from a psychological point of view, largely autobiographical." Illustrating the cliché that life imitates art, Ostenberg's stirring sculptures explore his inner quest, while vividly portraying a vaulter at their best. Although he has never seen vaulting, his fluid creations, like freestyle vaulting, capture the dynamic tension between desire, and uncertainty, balance, and collapse.
Ostenberg's search has moved him to believe that the essential things in life are not material, but the things that cannot be seen. We all know that what people see on the outside of vaulting is only a façade. The true values of vaulting are the countless positive, life shaping demands, veiled beneath the athletic artistry.
Vaulting fans will recognize that the life changing motives that stirred Thomas Ostenberg toward sculpture are routinely at work in vaulting. Creative, individual, and uplifting, each vaulting kür is a journey toward greater balance and imagination like a Thomas Ostenberg sculpture, challenging you to believe that perfect balance can be achieved.
"It only takes one thought, actively pursued, to change a life." - Thomas Ostenberg