Anatomy of an Artist's Exhibition- part 13
A Challenge and a Gift Project
While waiting for my sketchbook to arrive from the art house sketchbook project out of Boston, I read on another project they were calling for artists to join. The idea intrigued me and I’m always open to an interesting art experiment. I knew it would cramp my time factor as I was in the middle of two works with a live model. I had to be ready for the next appointment times and get them as close together to not lose momentum on the pieces. I also had to complete a companion piece to the Wine and Oysters work because I had entered both into a juried show. the idea of this so called “mystery project” was interesting and meant I could get back to my sculpture in an easy way now that my hand had healed.
The project was to create a piece of art work that would be placed in a public space to see or record the reception to a sudden unannounced appearance of artwork. Not leaving your name or any idea of why it was there would be the mystery part of the project. I had a bag of winter stone plaster and cement like material left from last year. I decided a bust or statue piece would make the challenge more interesting and be an easier artwork to place in an open public place. I used some wire mesh as an armature and used burlap material strips dipped into the plaster and wrapped onto the wire as the base. The good part of this material is that it can be mixed loosely or as a thicker consistency and used as a sculpting material.
At this point I had decided on a subject matter before my package from art house had arrived. I began a portrait bust piece. The mail arrived and in it was a theme for the art work. The theme was the surprise the project had said would be in the package. Luck had been on my side with the theme. Although rather strange for a theme, “Robots had taken over an elementary school”, my piece was already under progress and spoke to the theme. I was doing a child and adding the arm in an exaggerated hello position spoke to the theme that children would welcome the arrival of robots. This generation is more than familiar and accepting to technology and robots as machinery or personality companions. I carried on with the sculpture happy with my accidental answer to the theme. I decided not to do a realistic piece as the time factor was a crunch. Turning it into a more contemporary or cubism item, while making the hand and face more comfortable to the general public by finishing it realistically, would get the piece completed in time and be more interesting to viewers. Instead of a sweet artwork talking to technique, this would speak to the message of the child and welcome with a chuckle to any skeptical viewer. One can’t help a child’s enthusiastic innocent hello, and this is what I was trying to achieve.
The cement plaster material did give me some problems as I hadn’t used it much in the past and I was learning to handle the material while bending it to my idea. If nothing else, I was becoming familiar to the product and enjoyed the silky texture of the mixture and when to use the different consistencies in the molding of the form. Done again it may have come out more sophisticated but then leaving it in the woods to whatever weather and devices attacked it would have been more difficult for me as an artist surrendering her piece. As it was completed, would get the message across and fulfill the project terms. I was happy enough with the results for my first attempt. Placed in the site, I was even happier with the elements or environment and it stood out well from any vantage point. You could not help but be curious as you looked up at it and even laugh a bit a bit at the smile and body language of greeting.
The site chosen was about a mile from our new house build. A pull off section of the road gives room to park a car and access a popular natural water spring where the entire community stops regularly. Our house has been viewed here by many during construction. We learned this while shopping for product for the house build. I became aware this spring area was frequented by many in the area. As we shopped for product for the house we would hear from the person asking us the location of the build, “Oh, that’s the house near the spring. Yes, I’ve been watching that one.” I decided this was a good public site for my sculpture. It is on a rocky woodsy bank where someone had already placed benches in the woods for those to stop and enjoy the environment while getting their water. My spouse attached the piece so that wind and rain did not push it down and if anyone wanted to remove it, they would get a little workout for their reward.
We go up often to oversee the house build and pass the spring on our way. I will watch and see if the sculpture remains or if it is altered in any way. It is to be hoped that it will be enjoyed no matter how long it remains. It would be interesting if it is removed and appears elsewhere. Meanwhile I am back to finishing my wine piece and now must search out a horse to model for the completion of my model artworks. I think this will be another interesting project to experience.
We went back up to our land about 8 days later and passed the spring site where we had positioned the winter stone sculpture. I was surprised to see it missing and didn’t think that it would bother me if this was to happen. We examined the area and saw many coffee shop cups and wrappers in the vicinity that wasn’t there previously. I have alway seen this area clean of debris and even pristine. We concluded that teens had had a party or gathering and taken an interest in the sculpture piece. The hand was lying in the dirt but all other remnants of it was gone. It may have been trashed but they would have left the debris, so we surmised that they had wanted the piece and broke the hand in removal. It was just a surprise that it had happened so soon since placement. I do hope they are enjoying the artwork and if it encourages one of them to initiate an interest in art, then it was worth the project. It was fun anyway and sure it interested some passerby before it was taken from the site.
I’m not sure that if I had put more money and finesse into the piece that I would have taken the risk in placing it as a public piece where there was no security. But it was done with a quickness and roughness and cost effective knowing that the site would be wild in natural growth and without sightings most of the time. I am glad of the project and would entertain it again for an interesting theme.