I am very excited to be co-teaching a class this through the Maryland Institute College of Art this summer IN ITALY! Art historian, Jenny Carson, and I developed this class to explore the historical and contemporary relationship between the “artist” and the “craftsman.”
- WHEN: June 2 – June 30, 2014
- WHERE: Rome, Florence, Carrara
- WHAT: Experience both historical and contemporary studio spaces, culminating in a hands-on marble carving workshop
- WHY: Because it will be awesome! (see full details below)
- COST: Visit the MICA website for pricing details
1300 West Mount Royal Avenue | Baltimore, MD 21217
Jenny Carson holds a PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and an MA in Art History from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She was the recipient of a Senior Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum to conduct research on 19th-century sculptor William Henry Rinehart, and is currently organizing an exhibition of his work. Carson has lectured and published extensively on artist studio practices.
Sebastian Martorana is a sculptor and illustrator who received his BFA in illustration from Syracuse University and his MFA at MICA’s Rinehart School of Sculpture. His current studio is part of the stone shop at Hilgartner Natural Stone Company in Baltimore. Martorana’s sculptural work was recently selected to be featured in “40 Under 40: Craft Futures,” the 40th Anniversary exhibition of Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
This one, Lil’ Rocker, is based on the awesome little rocking chair in our son’s nursery. We have both spent a lot of hours in that chair feeding our little guy . . . and I noticed that, since we are both right handed, we inevitably sit on the right side of the chair, with him on the left, holding the bottle with our right hand. This has caused the cushion to take on this odd wave-like shape (though I am trying to make a point to remember to rotate it regularly).
The chair is basically dark grey, but since we knew better than to get a baby chair with out a pattern, we chose one with a kind of paisley pattern. Patterns hide stains. I felt that this pattern was really an essential part of Lil’ Rocker’s character, so trying to incorporate it subtly, as not to allow the pattern to overpower the form, presented a real challenge. But I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, and it opens up some interesting possibilities for future works.
However, in that tourist’s defense: as one can clearly see in the picture, this statue has clearly suffered from Hyper PIETRAL Pinky Dislocation in the past. The remains of the metal pin I. The remaining stump shows that this finger was replaced at least one before.
Please– curators be vigilant and viewers be cautious. Don’t let more statues fall victim to this pervasive plight . . . but if they do . . . you have my number.
While attending an event at the Walters Art Museum last night to see the Sondheim Finalists show I also had a chance to take a look at their admirable collection of marble sculptures. The bust above of the French writer Fontenelle by Jean Baptiste Lemoyne II, while a fine example of Baroque sculpture, is also very interesting in its method of fabrication.
At first glance it appears to be a single block of stone– but, look closer (click images above)–it is not. Like most busts of its kind, it has a separate base unit that is tightly attached to the sculptural portion. However, notably, this particular bust also has a tertiary piece that makes up a portion of the hanging cloak on the subject,further obscuring the base. These seams can bee seen more clearly from the back of the piece, where less care was taken to hide them, as they are generally out of sight (it is always rewarding to look at the parts of a sculpture that were not intended to be seen, so I always peek around the back of sculptures . . . even though it makes museum attendants nervous).
While this application of fine joinery in stone might seem like a lot of extra work– consider: by working 3 separate smaller stones, instead of one block that would contain the entire sculpture, there is far less waste, saving literally tons of stone. Additionally, in a shop setting, these separate pieces can be executed concurrently, so that while the sculptural portions of a bust is being addressed by the master carver, the additional portion of the cloak can be worked on by, perhaps, an apprentice and the base section by still a lesser trained stone cutter. This would mitigate costs by both reducing time and relative pay scales. Even with art, efficiency is always key.
For those who missed it or don’t get the Smithsonian Channel, the documentary that was produced about the Renwick Gallery’s 40 Under 40 exhibition is now available online through Youtube. This film included a feature filmed in my studio at Hilgartner Natural Stone Company as well as footage taken by videographer Tobin Herringshaw.
So I (Atlantic Custom Carving, LLC) have been in the planning phase of a large project for Baltimore City. Finally, last month, the stone arrived. I will of course post more about the specifics of the project, location, sculpture, fabricators, artists, designers and other information later when the project is complete. For now, for those who might be wondering what has been occupying my time, here are a few photos of the carving that I am doing for this project. As of now only the first of four unique hand carved granite medallions has been completed. I should be pretty busy through the end of the summer working of the remaining three . . .