According to renowned sculptor Delesprie,”Everybody expects a sculptor to be eighty-five with a beard down to their knees.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Petite, brunette, and beautiful, Delesprie is an energetic, serious professional, one of the few living artists to be recognized and honored by the Laguna “Pageant of the Masters,”who performed some of her various sculptures. In order to fully appreciate this amazing artist and her work, one has to experience them, be in their presence as it were, if only for a few moments.
Born in Montreal in the Province of Quebec, Canada, Delesprie comes by her talent naturally. Her mother is a painter, and her sister, a miniaturist (a sculptor, but in miniature form.) She grew up just outside the city of Montreal next to a Mohawk Indian Reservation. According to Delesprie; “I’d go to their side of the river and get the clay, because it was better than mine, and I became fascinated with the people. I decided to start sculpting children, then older natives. I was doing terra cotta at the time, which is one type of sculpture where once it’s fired and sold, you never see it again. These pieces were all one of a kind.”
After sculpting Native Canadians, Delesprie went on to do the same with Native Americans, traveling throughout the United States.
Delesprie attended California State University, Northridge and completed her degrees at Loyola University in Montreal. She first studied counseling and then business before turning to sculpture. Believing she could not make ends meet with art alone, Delesprie thought her business and counselling degrees would open doors to more lucrative employment. But then she realized her artwork was paying her way through university and could sustain her afterwards. After obtaining her degrees, she attended Brandis Art Institute taking both private and group classes over the course of four years. Her instructors included Martine Vaugel, Marion Young, and Don Gale.
Upon completing her education, Delesprie took up the paintbrush, but discovered,”I liked seeing things 3D, all the way around. I felt that for me, painting was more limited. Of course all mediums limit you, and for some people, painting is not because they do spectacular work. But for me personally, I thought the better way to go was to continue sculpting.”
During this time of artistic exploration, Delesprie discovered truths about herself that changed her life forever.”I’ve always had a lot of nervous energy,”she explained.”I never felt like I belonged anywhere, always felt lonely, like there was something missing in my life. I spent most of my time chasing rainbows that didn’t exist thinking they would fill that gap. Then I was introduced to a Messianic Jew, a woman who was born Jewish, but believes Jesus is the promised Messiah. She invited me to join her local Bible Study. When I read the Bible before, it never made any sense, but this time, God’s word became alive in my heart. Between reading on my own and listening to the Bible Study teaching each week, I realized why my life had felt so empty. I needed Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between God and me so I could have peace within and peace with God as well.
“One day after class, I went to the mountains, climbed a hill, and spent the next two and a half hours praying to God. I confessed I was a sinner and owned up to every wrong thing I had ever done and believe me, there was a lot! Then I asked God to forgive and cleanse me from my sins, and that I wanted Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I haven’t been the same since that day. All the feelings of loneliness, not fitting in, not having any purpose in life disappeared. I belong to Almighty God now, and He loves me as a precious daughter. My purpose in life is to give Him glory in all I say, do, and create. My days of chasing vain illusions are over. Now the only rainbows I seek are those in the sky after a rain shower.”
It could take Delesprie up to 1200 hours just to sculpt a 30-inch tall original, and as many as 350 hours to cast the image. Until recently, many people were privileged to view this painstaking process face to face.
“A lot of galleries asked me to work right in the window, and I did that for six years in the Nationa Heritage Collector’s Society Gallery on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I could talk to people and sculpt at the same time. I loved answering their questions and explaining the process of casting while still working.”
Delesprie’s sculptures can be viewed at the Ronald Reagan Library Museum, Edison Stadium, Disney, the Crystal Cathedral, Orange County Firefighters Memorial, and Headquarters of Joe Weider, father of U.S. bobybuilding. Her work is also on display in the Janss Mall–Thousand Oaks, Promenade–Westlake Village, the Commons–Calabasas, and other locations in California and across the nation. Several celebrities also collect her pieces including Michael (son of the late John) Wayne, Governor Arnold Schwarznegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Dick Van Dyke.
Delesprie began sculpting Gene Autry and his horse, Champion at the age of twenty-six, and considers this opportunity a major turning point in her career.”Afterwards, things really started to flow. The Autry project took one and a half years to complete because there was a tremendous amount of detail in the saddle, his boots, and all the accouterments, as well as the details in Mr. Autry’s face and hands. It was a painstaking project in terms of time.”The finished project, a 5000-pound bronze monument, is located at the entrance to the Gene Autry Museum in Griffith Park, California.
Delesprie was singled out by the Janss Corporation of Santa Monica, California to create an eight foot tall bronze Standing Indian sculpture titled “In Praise to the Great Spirit.”
The finished sculpture is permanently displayed at the Janss Mall. The mall incorporates an outdoor area designed for public functions, political campaigns, assemblies and other open air events. Delesprie’s statue weighs over 800 pounds. Its left arm is extended, reaching to the heavens holding a bow and expressing a prayer to the great spirit. Delesprie was selected over 50 other applicants because of her outstanding skills in anatomy, as well as her skill with movement and detail.
Another achievement was the sculpting of two heroic monumental angels for the “City of Angels.” Standing over 35 feet in height, this emotional and graceful monument is sure to become an icon and landmark for Los Angeles.
Though well known in the art world, Delesprie is kept humble by the fact that she is not an entity in and of herself. Anchored by her faith, Delesprie feels all her gifting, creativity, inspiration, and success comes from God. It’s little wonder, then, her name in French, means “From the Spirit.” –By Allison Garner
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