New sculpture for the Christian Science Plaza under construction

Construction has been underway for several months on my new monumental sculpture, Nave. This site-responsive piece will be part of Convergence, an exhibition of public sculptures co-sponsored by Boston Sculptors Gallery and The First Church of Christ, Scientist. The exhibition will be on view on the Christian Science Plaza in Boston Wednesday, May 1 to Thursday, October 31, 2013. For information about the other sculptures, the opening reception, the catalogue launch, and a series of talks and programs, go to the exhibition website: http://convergenceexhibit.blogspot.com/.

An older sculpture, Canyon, served as a model for my new piece. Canyon is only 15 inches tall, but I wanted the new piece tall enough so that a person standing in the space between the two structures would feel they were inside the sculpture; it was designed as 8 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The challenge was to scale up the structures and build for an outdoor, public venue.

Here on the Plaza, Project Manager Christopher Lenaerts, of Lenaerts Fine Woodworking,  and Glenn Leonard, are scribing the bases for the two parts of the sculpture to stand level on the slightly sloping Plaza surface. The sculpture is aligned with the east-west arc of the sun to allow maximum light into the interiors and to align with the orientation of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

Back in the studio, the wooden infrastructure of the two pieces is being built according to plans drawn up by Lenaerts and Tris Metcalfe, principal of Metcalfe Associates, an architecture firm in Northampton, to withstand high winds and weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Chermesino and Dave Grace lift one of the frameworks to standing for the first time. Below, the two structures face each other as they will on the Plaza, where they will stand six feet apart.

Above, Chermesino and Lenaerts fit the aluminum panels. Below, Chermesino and Leonard work on the final stages of construction.

The simple geometry and concrete-like surfaces of the two structures reflect the architecture of the Plaza. We applied a mixture of gypsum and polymer to the outer surfaces to simulate concrete and made it black to enhance the monolithic quality. Mark Stein of the LandMark Company, conducted experiments to determine the final blend of the cover material, and then measured out each ingredient. Expert plasterers Jerry Sawma and Scott Wallace of Bear River Timber Frames applied the difficult material over the course of two intense days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molt

 

Molt, 2012, Wood, rawhide, rawhide  144” x 18” x 25”

This new sculpture was recently exhibited at Boston Sculptors Gallery as part of Height, Width, Depth, Time: Boston Sculptors Celebrates 20 Years, and will be shown again at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke as part of REACH this April.

It was made after decades of looking at paintings and drawings of the Descent from the Cross. This Christian iconography of people lowering Christ’s body from the cross, where he had been crucified, provided artists from the 10th century onward with the potential for dynamic, dramatic configurations of cross, ladders, bodies, and emotions.

The most affecting for me is the version by Rosso Fiorentino, which I saw during a college seminar in Florence; we made a pilgrimage to the hilltown of Volterra to see the large painting where it stood alone in a high room. Its jagged forms, hallucinatory colors and lightning-struck grief left a deep impression on me.

The other imagery that fed into this piece was the memory of waking up in the Grand Canyon one morning to discover that during the night hundreds of cicada nymphs had emerged from the sand, climbed up dried plant stalks and molted, leaving tiny empty shells still clinging to each stalk.

“Poetics of Skin” Video

Sarah Bliss, a multi-media artist living in the Pioneer Valley (www.sarahblissart.com) is working with me in an ongoing collaboration, for which we have just been awarded the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. We are experimenting with her video, Before the Drop, projected onto my rawhide sculptures in various configurations. In Bliss’ words, we are “…deconstructing the boundaries between one form of matter and another, and forefronting the truth of the seamlessness between all material realities.”  Documentation of our exploration can be seen at: https://vimeo.com/rosalyndriscoll. Stills from our work are shown here and in the portfolio section of this website.