Design that Balances Site, Materials and Inspiration
My artistic process creating metal sculptures, fountains and public art begins by visualizing the proposed artwork in as many ways as possible. With public art spaces, different hours and days produce different lighting and changing populations. Will collectors have a bird’s-eye view of the art or will it be a garden focal point? How will climate affect a fountain's materials? What is the expected longevity of the installation?
Everything influences me and my process. I work primarily in metal. The durability of stainless steel, bronze, aluminum and copper match the sources of my designs: geometries of ships’ hulls and seashells, whirlwinds and electrons’ orbits, rocket trajectories and kelp swaying in ocean currents. These have all inspired and catalyzed my artwork. I can see where art could be placed everywhere: embedded in a plaza, ensconced on a coffee table, nested into a garden niche, or raised up on a traffic roundabout, visually connecting all corners of the surroundings.
Natural shapes, movement and lighting drive many of my designs, like Breaking Earth’s Bond, installed at the Gateway to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Scientists designed, fabricated and tested the rockets for the Saturn and Apollo missions right here. In 2013, I was awarded the 2013 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Commissioner Art Award “Inspiring Peace and Humanity through Art and Science” by Dr. Sheree Wen for this sculpture . The installation components involve physics and chemistry, like the research going on at the site. Trajectory, 25-feet tall and stainless steel, makes permanent the ephemeral trail of the rocket as it heads upward and eastward from the launch pad. Scattered about the base of Trajectory are Hydrazine, five stylized molecules of Hydrazine, the very first rocket fuel. All of my public artworks derive from the same reflections of place that Breaking Earth’s Bond did.
My design process seesaws between the requisites of the client/site and the active processes in my studio. This back-and-forth reflects my dependency on both the installation’s viewers and the requirements of physical fabrication. I owe my success as a public artist to the energetic dynamism of this balancing act.