Vanessa Solomon: Production Manager
“I abandoned all of my other projects to focus on Kelly’s collection which reminds me of my work with Jeff Koons. I frequently have flashbacks of working with Koons on the Celebration Series while dealing with the production challenges of Kelly’s pieces. We constantly push the envelope and do the impossible! It is an exciting and inspiring challenge!” -Vanessa
Originally from South Africa, Vanessa holds a Masters Degree in Sculpture and has more than 25 years of experience serving American museums, corporations, institutions, and artists.
In 1991, Vanessa came to the US, where she was the first International Intern at Tallix Sculpture Foundry in Beacon, NY. At Tallix, one of the largest foundries in the world in the nineties, Vanessa perfected her sculpture making skills in enlarging, mold-making, wax-making, metal casting, plastic casting, metal finishing and patina. She worked with top US and international artists such as Frank Stella and Frank Gaylord. She also worked developing new sculpture materials, making large-scale prototypes and public works.
Starting in 1995, Vanessa worked as Director of Mold Production for world-renowned artist Jeff Koons. Integral to the realization of his Celebration Series, she directed all mold production and worked closely with Koons on prototypes ranging from delicate balloons to the engineering and production of sculpture prototypes as large as 20 ft. Her role included overseeing 60 people working 24 hours shifts for months. This series of sculptures were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in 2008 and at the Whitney Retrospective in 2014 (last exhibit before the Whitney moved). In 2013, one piece from the Celebration Series sold for $58.4MM; this was, and still is, the highest amount ever paid for a living artist’s work.
Solomon was essential to the creation of the Korean War Veterans Memorial (DC), has worked with artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Otterness, and her corporate clients include Sony Pictures, Miller Beer, Twitter (and too many others to list here).
Her personal sculptures exhibited across the globe, notably the United Nations and the permanent collection of the South African Embassy in London. Vanessa joined the Kelly Kiefer team early in 2015.
“Kelly Kiefer’s work is the most complex we have seen due to her use of multiple textures, as well as different depths and plains. It is complicated, but we can do it, it’s a great challenge! When the collection is done, it will be amazing.”
The complexity behind creating each piece of the Collection has caused some in the industry to say that it would be impossible to produce Kelly’s work. This level of detail and intricate design provides for a significant barrier to entry, and differentiator in the marketplace.
After searching for many months for the right partner, with the willingness and expertise required, we partnered with a foundry with over 30 years of experience (including work for Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, the Leonardo da Vinci Horse, as well as figures for the Korean War Memorial)
Over the last 15 years, the Kelly Kiefer extended team has grown to include some of the most skilled artisans and competent suppliers in the country. It's with great intention and focus that we've built the team. so often those that "can" do the work are unwilling due to the challenging nature of the Kelly Kiefer pieces. Collaborative efforts are vital ensuring each piece carries the Kelly Kiefer vision to the end while exacting standards in kept in place. Studio assistants work on molding and casting and finishing. Expert 3D sculptors work in collaboration with Kelly turning sculpted maquettes into 3D models and CAD renderings to further explore logistics such as light and mechanisms for hanging or installation. Project managers, lighting experts, electrical engineers, and a panoply of craftsman and material suppliers are all part of the Kelly Kiefer extended team and are integral to the work.