Tiffany Carmouche poses with the clay model of her future real-life size sculpture of her father, children’s author Larry Callen.
Photo Credit: Katie V. Jones

Local sculptor Tiffany Carmouché, who works primarily in bronze, clay and plaster, creates her art in studios around the country, providing she has ample room and the right tools handy. But her ideas first take shape at her dining room table in Laurel, including her current piece, a figure of a man sitting on a bench with an open book.

While all her works are special to her, this piece is especially meaningful: It represents her father, Larry Callen, a children’s book author.

“He evoked kindness,” Carmouché said, of her father. “He mentored other authors and evoked creativity within youths and peers.”

Author of such books as “Pinch,” “The Just-Right Family (Cabbage Patch Kids)” and “The Deadly Mandrake,” among others, Callen died in 2008, at the age of 80.

Tiffany Carmouché with examples of children’s books by her father, author Larry Callen.
Photo Credit: Katie V. Jones4

Carmouché received a $50,000 grant from the Maryland Arts Council to create a life-sized bronze sculpture of Callen. Once completed, the piece will be displayed at Sandy Spring Museum in Sandy Spring.

“This is my first life-size,” Carmouché said. “I’ve worked with others, but this is the first one that’s all mine.”

Carmouché was surrounded by art as she grew up, as her mother was an artist, and her father an author. She was inspired to explore sculpting after a trip to Italy, and she took her first class at Montpelier Arts Center. Her early pieces were life-sized faces of the people she met while volunteering at a winter shelter; these pieces are now part of her series, “Our Stories.”

“Art has a way of healing,” she said. “I have overcome a lot of trauma and hard times — homelessness is just a chapter in their life.”

To fine tune her skills, Carmouché studied with women sculptors in Italy and Texas. She plans to create the life-sized figure of Callen in fellow sculptors’ studios in Texas and Colorado.

“[The sculpture] will travel in the back of a pickup,” Carmouché said. “The dream is to have my own studio.”

As she works, Carmouché will host live zoom calls for students through a Tour de Force microgrant. Tour de Force supports artists in the DMV with short-term grants ranging from $500 to $2,000.

“People can ask questions about who I am and the process,” Carmouché said. Through her virtual sessions, students will see how the work on the sculpture progresses and learn ways to spread random acts of kindness in Callen’s honor.

“It’s amazing working with kids and their energy,” Carmouché said. “The youth inspire.”

While the grant from the Maryland Arts Council does not cover all her expenses, she is pleased the organization believed in her vision and work. She is hoping to find a sponsor to fund the bench the figure sits on.

“Sitting figures are so much harder than standing,” Carmouché said. “There is so much math.”

She looked at various sites to place the work, including the Laurel Branch Library.

“My dad lived in the library,” Carmouché said. “Back in the day, we didn’t have Google. He was always in the library.”

Carmouché approached Sandy Spring Museum because of its open space and accessibility.

“She came to us with the idea and we talked more,” Sara Caporaletti, exhibit coordinator at the museum, said. “A lot of people pass by, see the art and stop. It will inspire creativity and wonder for everyone who sees the piece.”

The work is scheduled to be installed at the museum in the fall.