Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reworking and Revisiting: When is a piece truly finished? (Part 1 of 2)

The piece "Rectified" was originally completed in 2015, and at the time, it represented the resolution of a number of visual, conceptual, and technical considerations that had surrounded my work and specifically my small cast-bronze sculptural units since graduate school. While the solution of the rock form and wooden base as the appropriate way to display the tension and sense of abstracted industrial decay of the bronze unit was a significant step in the right direction at the time, I always had an issue the the interaction of the wood plane and the rock form. 

The original version of the sculpture illustrates a visual and contextual disconnect relating to material interaction and intention:

"Rectified" - Original Version, 2015

After 2 years of looking at the piece every day, I finally took the time to reevaluate the piece and do what was necessary to properly resolve it. I cut and silver-brazed a steel frame together, then sanded, blackened, and sealed the finished form. It was tightly fitted around the wood base and affixed with 12 brass pins through the shorter side pieces, leaving the front clean and unbroken. The recess formed by the frame was then filled with polished brass lock pin spacers. These brass pins are used in the master-keying of facilities and institutions, thereby allowing multiple keys with different pin heights to open the same lock. The brass field was then raked out and smoothed. The resulting zen garden-like aesthetic with a solitary boulder and tenuous bronze industrial structure is exactly what I always envisioned for the piece, and I am extremely pleased with how it turned out:

12.5" W x 10.5"D x 13"H
Bronze, Copper, Brass, Steel, Stone, Wood

Another factor that contributed to the reworking of the piece was an unfortunate minor accident involving the copper chain tie-down that occurred during the return shipping of a piece from an exhibition. The chain was returned separated in the middle, and sat for over a year broken and incomplete. Rather than just reattach or replace it, I fabricated a fully functional turnbuckle from brass micro-hardware and tubing to reconnect the chain pieces. It's a minor detail, but for me it really adds to the visual tension and context of the chains function in relation to the bronze drain stack unit.

Detail of Chain and Turnbuckle Unit

In Part 2 of this blog post I will explore in more depth the relationship between the creative process and the completion of a piece or body of work. This will address such issues as the impact of the original concept on the piece that is ultimately created, the importance and place that naming or titling a piece holds within the creative process, and the argument for revisiting old works as opposed to making a completely new piece instead and furthering one's creative exploration.