The art of Joseph Shuldiner proves that sometimes the best form does follow function. He created his first translucent lighting sculptures when he needed lamps himself. "I had moved into a house where there were no fixtures, so I took one of my sculptures and stuck a bulb in it."
At first glance, the sculptures are reminiscent of world-renowned Isamu Noguchi's paper lights. But Shuldiner credits other inspirational sources as well, namely the 1919 silent film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." "I've been inspired ever since by bizarre angles," he says; "Caligari" is the name of his newest lamp. Shuldiner uses rice paper and willow branches, indigenous to the area, to create his sculptures in his Los Angeles studio. Each takes a day to assemble, and his father--a retired sheet-metal worker who never thought of himself as an artist--helps devise the hardware that holds the bulbs. "A small piece of sculpture in itself," Shuldiner says proudly.
When his graceful fixtures stand side-by-side, they resemble a glimmering, surreal city skyline. "My work is about the juxtaposition of the organic and industrial," Shuldiner explains, "a modern metropolis realized in primitive, organic materials."
The sculptures are so popular that Shuldiner is still in the same predicament as when he began. "Right now," he says," I don't have any lamps in my own house: Somehow I always end up selling them."