Thursday, May 28, 2009


This Blog has made me take art way too seriously. Sometimes you have to do things like this to keep you going.

Gemini: Steel Bases

About 3/4 of the way through The Second Assembly, I was having problems with the sculpture twisting when I went to pick it up. One of my professors came up to me and asked me why I wasn't using a steel base to really lock in these pieces. Once I built the base, production jumped 10% and I was able to move my sculpture a lot easier.

So instead of building these sculptures from the concrete up, I decided to go ahead and build the base for them to stand on until we go out and install them.
I also put them on casters, so I can move them around a lot easier, and hopefully without use of the bridge crane.

While I had my camera out, I went ahead and put the two bases on top of each other and created an homage to one of my favorite sculptors, Mark Di Suvero. I call it "Di Suvero's Bench"

Gemini: Site Color Test

For Gemini, I wanted to make sure that the color of these sculptures was visible from anywhere on the property, but didn't detract from the landscape, so I made 2 scale models out of plywood, painted them, then installed them on the property.


I was also commissioned by a prominent person here in Indianapolis to create a private sculpture for their property. After first visit to their property I was blown away by the landscape and openness of the space. So when thinking about what to put on the property, I thought of objects that occupy space, Comets.

I modified the growth form that I had used for Community North and extended the tails of the form to make it look like these comets were hurdling through space. Multiple views of this sculpture were important for me, so when you are walking around the piece it looks like it is flying close to the ground.

I'm extremely excited about this opportunity because it allows me get my feet working at a scale all my sculpture heroes have been working at.

Ant Hill Bench, Ants!

Now the most important part of the anthill would be the ants. I had always planned on the ants, but the more I made the ants to go on the bench, the scarier they got. Ants should already be cute by proportion. They have big heads and big eyes, if you apply that proportion to anything else it automatically becomes the cutest thing ever.

Because this bench is going to kids, I decided to call in the big guns on this one. One of my great friends, Anna, happens to be the expert on cuteness. If you need something cute just take a look at her latest series of bowls. In one she has a Panda playing a tiny drumkit, in another she has a a hummingbird trying to play SNES, and my personal favorite, she painted a bear in a spacesuit. Amazing stuff, but I figured if I wanted cute ants, I had to get her to make them.

I got the cutest ants ever. From here, I'm making rubber molds of them and casting them in bronze. Then I'll take the bronze ants and bolt them into the bench.

But if I hadn't said it enough, the kids are going to love these ants.

Ant Hill Bench, Revisions.

In my initial design, I overlooked a lot of things. First, I didn't address the top of the bench itself. The flat slab of wood on top was too plain and uninteresting so I have now the bench looks like a tree has fallen on top of the anthill and you are sitting on top of this fallen tree. I also didn't like how the cutaway of the bench looked. It was too abrupt and looked too forced. It also didn't protect the ants directly from the elements.

This time, I made the curve more gentle, and in turn made the whole thing feel more natural. Because of this curve it also allowed for me to put a clay awning over the ants to protect them.

Ant Hill Bench

This winter I was commissioned to make a themed bench for Riley Children's Hospital's new playground. The theme for the park was "cute and cuddly forest", an atheistic that not only have I not ventured into, but wasn't sure how to approach. After looking at the initial layout of the park, I noticed that there was no anthill in this forest. There was a giant tree and all sorts of cute bugs, but no ants/ anthill. Growing up in Tennessee I can remember there being this giant anthill that my friends and I used to ramp our bikes of, so using my childhood memories I found a connection to the park.

My bench is made from ceramic, steel, and teak. The big plan is that on the cutaway on the bench, you will be able to look inside and check out these ants that are on the inside of the bench.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Second Assembly: What it's about.

The Second Assembly was a commission opportunity for the juniors and seniors enrolled in the sculpture class here at Herron School of Art and Design. We were all encouraged to produce proposals for a brand new rotating sculpture spot in front of Community North Hospital here in Indianapolis. When I first arrived at the hospital I thought it was an airport. The whole feel of the place was that it wasn't a hospital, it didn't even have that hospital smell.

So for a contemporary hospital, I was proposing a contemporary sculpture that dealt with growth. At the time I was working with these forms that reminded me of these uprooted palm trees that I had seen on TV after the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, but it wasn't the destruction I was most amazed by, it was the way people were able to rebuild after such a tragedy. It really got me thinking about no matter what happens at a hospital, good or bad, we have second outlook on life. Another metaphor I worked with for this project was fallen tree. I grew up on an 80 acre farm so fallen trees were common thing for me, but whenever one tree fell there was new life that came out of it. It provided shelter for small animals, food for bugs, or warmth from firewood. Even thought the tree was gone, it transformed into something greater than what it had been.

Visually, I wanted something that had the feeling of some sort of microscopic battle where one shape was falling and another was rising. I also wanted something that visually looked like it was moving and changing when you looked at it. The space the sculpture is in is quite deceiving. It's a 40'x12'x6' shadowbox essentially, but there are windows that allow the viewer to see the sculpture from behind, so different views became critical when laying out all the different parts of the sculpture. The solution I came up with allows all the negative space of one view of the sculpture be filled up by positive shapes of another view creating endless possibilities when walking around the sculpture.

Another component of the sculpture is the finishes on the two elements. For the square tube "fallen tree" elements, I went with a glossy black finish and for the organic pipe pieces I used a galvanized steel finish. One of my favorite painters Kazimir Malevich used black squares in white circles and described the black square as man's control on nature and the white circles as nature's ever growing control on man. I was intrigued by this comparison and translated that into this piece. Visually though, white wouldn't have shown up against the brick background so I went with the galvanized finish on the pipes to create a shiny contrast to the black growths. In the spring and summer, the pipes will stand out and demand more of your attention while in the colder part of the year where the sunlight isn't as intense, the pipes take a backseat while the black fallen tree growths look like they're floating on air.

To sum up what one of the patients at the Hospital said to me,
"That's the coolest looking thing I've ever seen"

That's all I needed to hear.

The Second Assembly: Installed

The Second Assembly: The Construction Images