A hand in it

DSC_2 0482 I spent yesterday at a studio space near Elon University, NC with my new friend, Ahmed Fadaam, a sculptor who now works as a journalist for the New York Times. He’s a visiting scholar at UNC Chapel Hill. The art school where he taught in Baghdad, Iraq was burned down after the war broke out.

Ahmed is finishing up a life sized sculpture of a woman which will be placed on the Elon campus. 

When I walked into the studio, the first thing I noticed was the overall beautiful flow of the lines in his work and then the excellence of the hands in his sculpture. There will probably be eighteen hands in total.

You can tell a talented sculptor by his or her skill with hands.

Ahmed asked if I wanted to touch it – to work on it and then he told me he wanted me to sculpt one of the hands -to use my own hand as a model. He laughed and said I could tell everyone I had a DSC_2 0486hand in it.

I was surprised and delighted, but also nervous that he might not be pleased with my work. I’ve never made a life sized sculpture and here Ahmed gave me the opportunity to help him with his. He let me make the clenched fist of the woman.

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Many people came into the studio. Ahmed was gracious with everyone. He invited people to touch the sculpture and answered a myriad of questions about Baghdad, the war, how women are treated, about his family and the meaning of this sculpture, including what each hand represents.

Ahmed has such a comforting, inviting presence. People are drawn to him.

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Little black number

"Night Lotus" by Dale McEntire -photo by Kim Marchesseault 

“Night Lotus”, an intimately scaled, meditative, black steatite stone carving by Dale L. McEntire, invites us to ponder its flowing curves among angles; its rough, organic, earthiness against silky-smooth, refined surfaces; and lightening strikes of blinding white on midnight black.

Dale McEntire, Sculptor of “Night Lotus” says, “The sculpture ”Night Lotus “ is inspired by the concept of life and beauty evolving from the below the surface and enfolding into visible form. This is a metaphor that appears in ancient text in many cultures. The stone was quarried in Virginia and the opportunity to use natural surfaces incorporated with carved and polished surfaces is a major element in this work. My goal with sculpture is create positive images that are inspiring and uplifting.” 

I was thinking about carving a commissioned sculpture from this type of stone because the natural white streaks in it would be key to the work.   My stone carving teacher, Paris Alexander, said he has tons of it lying around. I looked at him and laughed. Anyone else who says they have tons of something lying around, you know it’s an exaggeration, but when a stone carver says they have tons of something lying around, they literally have tons.

ECU professor, Hanna Jubran, strolled by laughing and joking like he does while Dale was installing this piece in the Cary Sculpture Exhibition.  Dale had been a student of Hanna’s. They began discussing the difficulties with carving this type of stone. It’s beautiDale McEntire applies mineral oil to sculpture, ful, but Hanna said it was a health risk because basically it was like carving into talc. Breathing airborne talc particles would be similar to breathing in asbestos. Dale said he loved the way the stone carved and the way it looked but he had to wear a full face respirator while working this stone. Of course there’s no danger once you finish carving.

Before installation, Dale had the sculpture sitting on its side and you could see he had drilled a hole into the bottom of the stone and inserted a thread he could screw right onto the base. So clever.

On the left you can see Dale McEntire applying mineral oil to his sculpture as the finishing touch.

And then one day …it happened

"And Then One Day....It Happened" by Charles Brouwer -Photo by Kim Marchesseault 

Charlie Brouwer, sculptor of “And then one day …it happened” said “Recently most of my outdoor sculptures have been human figures. The ideas for them come from my personal experiences. Occasionally I experience, or think something that seems to resonate with meaning going beyond my personal life and I turn it into a sculpture. I hope viewers will recognize in these figures something of what it means to be human.

 

I make them out of locust wood that grows in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live.  Locust has been the traditional wood of choice for fence posts because it is extremely hard and very resistant to weather and rot. This also makes it a good material for outdoor sculptures. 

For each sculpture I use some locust directly from logs and limbs, and some that has been cut into lumber by sawmills. Together they suggest the way we humans seem to be both part of nature and products of our own invention.

 

We live in a difficult era – humans and the earth are in trouble on every front. I cannot make art without thinking about this situation. 

I find myself asking – how should we live, what should we do, what is beautiful, true, good, and important now?”

 

The wood looks wonderfully faded to almost white with a striding figure at the base undergoing a sudden metamorphosis -becoming a ladder reaching toward the sky.

I love philosophy in sculpture. I’m so lucky to have these close to my house.

I didn’t have the privilege of watching the installation process of this piece in the Cary Sculpture Exhibit so I took pictures afterward.  Here are a couple of handy tips for photographing sculpture.

1. Do not eat king crab legs the night before you take pictures no matter how succulent and delicious they look. The little spiky things in the shells poke into your finger tips and it’s really painful the next day when you’re trying to press the buttons on your camera.

2. Bring something to brush off bird poo from the sculptures with. I wish someone had said something to me before I went! Instead I had to use my hand.

3. Wear old clothes for rolling around in the dirt and grass.  Check your hair for grass, dirt and insects *before* you meet someone for lunch.

4. Don’t panic when the person in the office behind the sculpture you’re photographing looks wide eyed at you from their window and suddenly closes the blinds. At this point there’s still a good chance they won’t actually report you to the police as a stalker.

Air Guitar

 Mike Roig and fellow sculptor Wayne Vaughn move "Air Guitar" into place -photo by Kim Marchesseault  Mike Roig and fellow sculptor, Wayne Vaughn wheel the $5,000 prize-winning entry of the 2008 Cary Visual Art Sculpture Show, “Air Guitar” into place on what looks like  a medieval castle-wall-ramming contraption. The sculpture dangles from a hook on back while a bar in front holds counterweight. Fellow sculptor Wayne Vaughn assists Mike Roig in stringing  "Air Guitar" 

Mike resides with his wife, author and illustrator Clay Carmichael in Carrboro, NC.

Mike Roig, Sculptor of  “Air Guitar”, says, “All I need is a hook, some notion of an interesting direction to explore and I begin. Air Guitar’s hook was to give the wind an instrument to play.”

The wind now has a beautifully engineered, seventeen-foot tall, cresceSculptor Wayne Vaughn assists Mike Roig in stringing "Air Guitar"nt-shaped, steel-stringed guitar at its whim in the Town of Cary.

Mike joked that with the on looking teenage girls and all the picture-taking, this must be what it’s like to be a rock star.

Thank you for being so patient about the photographs.  I figure I’m not such a great photographer so if I take a thousand pictures, one’s bound to turn out!

I think I have enough photographs of Mike to piece together a high quality action sequence if anyone wants to make a movie about him.

Hanna is not really a girl

Hanna Jubran installs "Earth, Water, Wind, Fire #2" as Ken Jarvis looks on.  photo by Kim Marchesseault 

ECU professor, Hanna Jubran, kept me and many of the people around him laughing as he installed his work in the  CVA sculpture show

He helped other sculptors install their work as well. Some of the artists  in this exhibit had been students of his.

From the looks of it he was well on his way to picking up a few new students.

In the image on the left Hanna is drilling holes into a pre-cast concrete pad so he can bolt this sculpture in place for the 10-month duration of the Cary Visual Art show.

The ingenious use of a peculiar shade of blue creates movement and electric energy between tectonic plates of the sixteen-foot-tall, painted steel sculpture called “Earth, Water, Wind, Fire #2” by Hanna Jubran.

He says of the pR.N. Rouse & Co., who donated their crane services, work here to place Hanna Jubran's sculpture in the CVA Showiece, “It expresses the cycle of life, growth and continuum. The interplay of shape, form, space and colors. These four elements are seen in a variety of forms, shapes and colors as they occur in nature. They are ever changing.”

On the right you can see Hanna’s work still strapped to the boom truck. It was slightly lifted off the ground as members of the crew turned it by hand to achieve good placement.

p.s. Hanna, thank you for clearing it up that you’re not a girl.

Men at the Wheel

Placing Charles Pilkey's "Wheel of Life" photo by Kim Marchesseault  I laughed with one of the other volunteers at a reception for this very Sculpture Show that the pay is terrible but the benefits are incredible for us volunteers with Cary Visual Art.

The day I took this picture I was in heaven watching and photographing as each sculptor brought his work in. The day was long and hot. The installations were as unique as the works themselves and each artist brought his own distinct personality to the collective group as the hours progressed. 

Some were charismatic  teachers, some were quiet -maybe even reclusive. Some were tired from the physical labor of transporting and installing work of this scale. Some couldn’t hold back the smiles and laughter. Most of them knew each other from previous shows. They joked with each other and offered help where needed.

In the photo above, Town of Cary staff, Cary Visual Art Volunteers and Charles Pilkey himself (in the dark pants in the front) are placing “Wheel of Life” on a pre-cast concrete slab. The town actually dug up the plantings in that bed and spread them out so the pad would fit properly. This particular installation had a bit of a hitch because the original concrete pad was too small to secure the work on. It was removed and another pad was brought in with a forklift and placed before the sculpture could be installed. We were so fortunate to have many people focused on making this show a success.

Sculptor of the steel and bronze “Wheel of Life”, Charles Pilkey, says of his work, “The sculpture symbolizes our emergence from nature, the rise of technology, the development of ever more destructive technologies and finally the end of civilization. Then the cycle begins again. But the question remains, ‘Will we find the wisdom to free ourselves from the cycle of suffering and destruction?’”

Maybe some day my work will be this large.

My apologies for such a long pause in posting. I have a lot to share.