You can check out the article, Carving Out a Legacy, about the Walters Art Museum show online too by following this link to The Baltimore Sun’s page.
Obviously, as a kind of extension of the Soft Step Series, I wanted to make a sort of mini-stoop that would be more appropriate for my (then) one year old son.
He loves to stoop with us, but his feet dangle uncomfortably off the full size stair steps.
To be fair, at almost two years old now, he has probably already outgrown the scale of this piece . . .
I thought is doing this when I saw how taken he with a child-size recliner at a house we stayed at on vacation. Why not make a child-size stoop?
Ultimately, we got him his own child-size recliner, chocolate faux-leather. The treads and cheek walls of this piece are made from salvaged pieces of stone from our neighborhood, and the seams and polished finished are based on his little chair.
This public art piece is part of the redevelopment project in the Barclay neighborhood. I was contacted by the sculpture department at MICA who was asked by the developer, Telesis Corp, to assist with reincorporating the salvaged marble stoops from the neighborhood back into the project in an artistic way.
Primary in my thought process was allowing this new neighborhood to have a physical and psychological connection to its historic past. These stair treads are once again acting as a location for communal gathering for people of all ages and backgrounds.
The placement of the stone was planned as to allow, for the tallest likely person, while still being usable for the shortest, keeping children in mind. The material and the fact that the checkered game surface is etched directly into the face of the stone means that they are permanent.
Though the timeline did not allow for the most complex of sculptural concepts or structures here, sometimes simple is beautiful. I am very excited to have been able to incorporate this piece of Baltimore’s past into a project for its future.
I have larger and more intricate ideas for art to be included in the next phase of this development, which will include another larger adjacent park. However, I am very pleased that this piece has been positively received by the community so far. I hope that it will continue to be the kind of art piece that serves the aesthetic, cultural and functional needs of the community, becoming a destination that the neighborhood can be proud of.
They are located on Worsley St, between, Barclay St and Greenmount Ave.
This week I will be speaking at the 2014 American Craft Council Baltimore Show as part of their Conversation Corner Series.
- Thursday, February 20 at 12:00pm
- Sunday, February 23 at 2:00pm
Many thanks to my son, Gian Carlo, for standing in as my younger-self.
Ever since I showed the first New Construction piece (the cinder block), people have been telling me: “You should carve a brick! You should carve a brick!”
People are always telling me what I should carve and sometimes they are right. But in this case, honestly–that didn’t sound very interesting. Conceptually it made sense; bricks are another modern material being used to replace what once would have been marble. I am always saddened when I see a set of bricks slapped up where stone steps once existed stoops (particularly those new smooth and perfect bricks that lack any of the charm of the aged and irregular bricks that new-old-homeowners are always exposing). And, more often than not, the bricks aren’t even laid well! And, one or two steps on the outer edges are usually missing or have been re-set at one time or another.
Yet still, “a brick” was still not interesting enough to compel me to just carve one out of stone . . . Then I remembered something that one of my grad school professors, Ming Fay, said during a group crit: “If you are going to do something simple — do a lot of it.”
It then occurred to me that unlike a cinder block, a single brick is not very structurally or sculpturally dynamic, but like a cinder block they are meant to be used in concert. So I decided to just illustrate the thing that I was hoping to speak against: a step made of bricks that was once a step of marble.
This proved to be quite a challenge. On one hand this is one of the rawest sculptures that I’ve ever done; the broken edge and the un-finished, roughly tooled interior sides were left un-re-carved. On the other hand, because I was trying to represent a series of nearly perfect and identical objects assembled together imperfectly, the piece was extremely technically demanding. I spent a lot of time removing very small amounts of stone to make sure that right angles were actually right angles. Add to that the fact that this particular stone had a wide vein of some of the hardest minerals present in nature.
It would have actually been far easier to carve a series of bricks that were aligned perfectly rather than a series of bricks that are slightly out of kilter. This is definitely the kind of piece that owes credit to my trainers at Manassas Granite & Marble, Inc. who, during my apprenticeship, instilled the technical skills and discipline of the craft of carving that now allow me the ability to make this kind of sculptural work.
So while one carved brick would probably be pretty lame — I’m hoping that twenty-six carved bricks are not.