The Ballad of 14 Gauge

14 gauge wire: it is a ubiquitous, unglamorous hardware store staple and yet for twenty years it has shaped my path as an artist. Every sculpture I create begins with a length of this wire that I manipulate into a small maquette. I then enlarge the model and add volume to the wire framework with foam and resin. I add and subtract material, discovering the ultimate form as I sketch and re-sketch it (often the finished sculpture scarcely resembles my original wire drawing). Realizing the final piece is like working a three dimensional cryptogram where I gradually fill in the negative space and deduce what shapes must go where.

But is the sculpture predetermined by its inner wire skeleton or are there multiple solutions to the same puzzle?  That is, can a single maquette produce more than one sculpture?  I’ve been curious to investigate this question by generating four to six identical wire enlargements and finding (or trying to find) different spatial answers for each. It is akin to the “nature vs. nurture” query: what is inherent to the maquette that determines its eventual form and if different strategies (i.e. external forces) are used to address the same initial challenge, how is/are the sculpture(s) affected?

My past collection and several recent projects have gotten me particularly excited about these questions. With RAPTOR Rising~A Bronze Triptych, I cast the same abstract piece in three different poses, creating a bronze series that echoed stop-motion animation.  My sculptures, which can be categorized as symmetrical (e.g. Dragon), asymmetrical (e.g. Crustacea), and contrapposto (e.g. Crush), are related through a shared vocabulary of shapes.  Pegasus and Crustacea are half-brothers, developed from broken halves of the “parent” enlargement.  My proposed project should result in a litter of sculptural siblings born from a single progenitor.  Will they all look the same? How much will the completed pieces influence those that follow?

This is something I have thought about over the years yet haven’t taken the time to explore it. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it is probably that self-imposed pressure to always create new/New/NEW! Which leaves scant time for deviation from my Path, as it were. I was recently nominated for a residency at the Headlands Art Center in CA, so I am submitting this proposal as my entry.

Headlands’ proximity to the water is especially compelling because the ocean has been a constant source of inspiration to me. Nearly every photo of my artwork tells the same story; my sculptures, like me, are most at home in the sea.

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