26 September 2007

Interstices - Part 4

This is a bit closer photograph of Communion Circle: 1-10.

Communion Circle: 1-1
Plaster sculptures, each piece measures
approximately 24" x 24" at the base,
heights vary from 64" to 76"

I like tension in my artwork. I like to find ways to express two or more opposing ideas in a single work.

This piece is about community. As I planned the piece I had two ideas about community. Community is always the same. Community is always changing.

Community is always the same represents the idea that community essentially exists anytime there is one being involved with another. Thinking in terms of human community, it seems to me that community is our foundation; it is the bedrock of our existence. That is the part that never changes. We are always in community.

Community is always changing refers to the fact that individuals change community, and community changes individuals. By this I do not mean simply the transitory nature of human interaction, not just that we are nomadic in nature (nomadic in regards to community - even if we do not move our persons, we move our loyalties, our interests, our passions and that brings us into community with new groups) but also that each individual changes the dynamics of a community, and the experience of community changes the individual.

Each piece in Communion Circle: 1-10 represents a being, an entity, in some stage of its life. Each being has root-like tendrils at the bottom of wide/thick bases. Each being then tapers up to a narrow point which twists, bends or droops in a variety of shapes.

The root/tendrils base is meant to suggest a tree in the minds of the viewer - what is more stable than a tree. It lives its life in one place and, barring human intervention, lives a long time, feeding the community upon its demise, as it slowly decays. This represents the unchanging essence of community.

The upper sections of the beings are meant to suggest surreal bird heads (some of them strongly resemble birds). What is more temporal than a bird, more transitory? This embodies the ever-changing aspect of community.

The sculptures themselves were constructed in phases. I started with a block of wood, 1" x 7" x 7", drilled a 5/8" hole in the center of it, and inserted a 60" fiberglass rod. I then twisted newspaper into the root-like shapes and taped it to the board. Once I had enough roots taped down, I began filling out the shape with crunched up balls and folded up slabs of newspaper, taping them to each other as they wound around the fiberglass rod in the center, tapering to a narrow column at the top of the rods. I then twisted more newspaper into the various bird-head shapes and affixed them to the tops of the sculptures with more masking tape.

Once I had the general shape I wanted I covered the sculpture with a couple layers of plaster cloth (the same stuff they used to cast broken bones with). With this plaster cloth I refined the shape, adding details to make the suggestion of tree trunks and bird heads stronger.

After the plaster cloth dried and set up I mixed up a slurry of plaster and water which I then brushed on the sculpture in a thin layer. After the layer dried fully I added another layer, and another. Each sculpture has around twenty layers. After the plaster work was done, each piece was given two layers of a neutral white paint.

I decided on white because I did not want color to interfere with either "seeing" the shapes, or seeing the pieces as a cohesive whole.

That said, I am working with a local foundry on getting these cast in soft steel or iron. I think they would make a great outdoor sculpture - it would rust to a lovely brown color.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was excited to read about your process in the making of "Community" and I must say the title is befitting. I wish you luck in getting this work cast and agree that a natural weathering, discoloration or rust would only serve to enhance the work. To be honest I view much work, but this piece holds my attention in a unique and spiritual way. The form allows the eye to move freely throughout the piece, yet a sense of cycle or infinity is evident.
Thanks again for putting it up and also the larger image.

Be well,