Filtering by Category: summer 2010

installation day

Added on by Jourdan.
So, it finally happened. After much trouble shooting, we were finally able to get this thing into place. I hadn't realized that I'd created such a monster until it came time to move it. I found, on what I thought was installation day, that my sculpture was too heavy and wide to lift as is with the crane. No worries. That just meant I had to cut it into 2 parts, move them separately, and weld them back into place on-site. So after welding on the last few pieces on the very top (scary and fun), grinding a seam that could tastefully fit back together, and driving into Minneapolis and back to pick up a fancy gas-generated welder, you better believe I was ready for action!

Almost there!

We moved the big part first. Here is Artistic Director John Hock hooking her up for some heavy lifting.

And up we go! It lifted without any problems!

Lowering onto the trailer resulted in some bending and warping, but I didn't sweat, because it wasn't anything I couldn't fix on-site.

Just going for a walk to the far side of the park.

Lowering into place. Time for part 2.

By the time both pieces were on on-site the sun had started to set...

But of course that didn't stop me from welding it back together!

crane action

Added on by Jourdan.
Earlier this week we fired up the crane and attached the top piece of my sculpture. A very exciting event, indeed.










a special thanks to John Hock (artistic director), Bobby Zokaites (park manager), and Tom Streit (fellow intern) for all of their gracious assistance

and the journey continues... only 2 weeks left!

coming along

Added on by Jourdan.
Piece by piece, it's coming together. Last week I met a nice man named George who kindly snapped these photos of me working. He stopped by the park on his way up into Canada. A 10 day trip of motorcycling around Lake Superior... check out his quality travel blog HERE for photos.
Now that I've got the basic structure built, my time is spent cutting cutting cutting and welding away.

Working outside has its ups and downs. It gets pretty darn hot out here during the day time. And the nighttime mosquitoes are mildly carnivorous. Rain pours down in unexpected sheets, causing a panicked shuffle to get the high-voltage tools into the barn. But I'll tell you... the landscaped. My God, the landscape makes it all worth it. I can't help but feel more and more that my piece is becoming a part of the landscape. The backdrop of cornfields and cartoon clouds... this is something entirely new to me... and I love it.

Franconia Sculpture Park

Added on by Jourdan.
It's been a month. And I still kind of don't even know what to say. I hesitate to try to define my experience out here with words, with the fear that it might cheapen it. Life on the park is rich. Our days are full. Work is hard. But it feels good. In such a short amount of time I've become not only a weed-whacking monster, but a grass-planting manic, a thistle-pulling beast, AND a ladder-climbing acrobat painter. 7 days a week we interns work for the park. We spend the morning doing various tasks, such as those mentioned above, and have the afternoons to work on our own sculptures. My piece is coming along. I arrived with plans and models for 2 ideas, and ditched them 2 days in. I'm much more happy with what I've conjured up.

I spent the first few days constructing this scale model. Though I was committed to the form, I was all over the place as far as materials go. I finally decided just to go with steel. Lots and lots of steel. And I plan to make so that it can be disassembled and moved to another location if the opportunity arises. Once my 1000 linear feet of #3 rebar arrived, I got to bending in no time. I prefer to bend the rod without the use of tools. I feel that by using my body I am able to get the material to do what I want it to do. It's a very physical/spiritual process... not easy to explain.

Roughly 2 weeks into my stay, my professor Jarod and his wife Jennifer stopped by to say hello. It just so happened that they were in town for a wedding, and though they both went to school out here (the University of Minnesota) they had yet to experience Franconia Sculpture Park's new location. It was really great to see them... to show them around the park, to show them what I'm working on. Very cool. Everything about this SURF project seems to be working out just right.

More in-progress photos to come!

Bubble Project prototype

Added on by Jourdan.
All the hard work has finally paid off. The prototypes are complete! Though I've yet to see them in person, I'm thrilled at the fact that we've actually pulled it off. It wasn't an easy process. We decided, in order to save on fabrication costs, that we would build/sculpt the form onto which the bubble tiles would be vacuum formed, rather than using a CNC router.


First we made the form entirely out of plaster. In order to get the smooth, round forms we made plaster molds of rubber play balls of various sizes and cast them in plaster.

Then we sliced the solid plaster form in to 48 1/2" pieces on the bandsaw, traced each onto MDF board, and cut them out.



Once lined up and glued together, we began the tedious sanding process.



So, we left this MDF "tool" with the fabricators at MultiPlastics, and just a week or so later, these babies were ready for pick-up......


Situation Destination

Added on by Jourdan.
While I was installing at the library, Becky Melancon, the sweet lady who organizes/coordinates the gallery space, snapped a few in-progress installation shots. Accompanying each photo is cute commentary, which is why rather than re-posting the photos here, I'd like to redirect you to the library's Saul Alexander Gallery Exibit, June 2010 flickr album... CLICK HERE to see more

For those curious as to how this piece came together...
  • first the steel armature was constructed as one unit
  • then I added seam lines and cut it apart into 12 pieces
  • rented a U-HAUL truck to get everything to the library
  • assembled parts using bailing wire... 2 at a time
  • covered outer part of structure with plastic cling wrap
  • using a spray adhesive, covered with pink fiberglass insulation (or "fluff" as I like to call it)
The day after I finished I had to go and patch a humongous hole... looked like someone had shoved their foot right through it. I've also patched several finger poked holes. As frustrating as it is (particularly because I will be gone for the remainder of the exhibition and unable to make any repairs) I can't help but feel glad that folks feel comfortable enough in the space to do as they please. I want it to be approachable and friendly. Not sterile and intimidating like most gallery environments. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that people behave and don't cause any more significant damage in the remaining 2 weeks of the piece's life!

Situation Destination

Added on by Jourdan.
I finally finished the piece, and I must admit I'm kind of bummed... bummed that I no longer have an excuse to hang out in the gallery and talk to people and hear their reactions. That's my absolute favorite part of what I do. I've been SO happy these past couple of days. The library is the perfect place for my kind of work. I was initially concerned that it wouldn't get much exposure in the space, but I couldn't be more thrilled about the audience that it's reaching. There have been kids galore... and I really, really, really love kids. My work is very much inspired by them and their unrestrained curiosity and enthusiasm.It's really neat how the space takes on different personalities at different points in the day... at times it will be full of energy, kids running around, rolling around, dancing, etc. At other times it is more subdued and calm... a place to come and read books, to relax, or perhaps even to take a nap (had several kids tell me it made them sleepy.)

went to go get some more materials and came back to find this (!!!)

oh you know, just doing some calculus homework...

coming soon... Situation Destination

Added on by Jourdan.
On June 1st I will begin installation of my latest large-scale piece. I will be transforming the Saul Alexander Gallery at the Charleston County Public Library downtown, and I couldn't be more excited. This will be the first time that I will have the opportunity to fill an entire space, without regard to other people's work. Granted, it's not a very big space... but it's just right for what I'm going to do. Below is my "statement" that went out in the library's press release for the show...

(scale model for Situation Destination)

Situation Destination, designed for the Charleston County Public Library, both conceptually and structurally, is the fourth piece in my ever-evolving body of large-scale site-specific installations, or “situations.” In my work I am very much concerned with surrounding spaces, and in cultivating, within these spaces, temporary experiences that engage the viewer on multiple levels.

Visually, I like to work with forms that are both interesting and appealing. The soft, undulating shapes tend to be biomorphic in design. Though they may resemble living organisms or forms found in nature, they are, at the same time, intentionally non-representational, leaving the viewer the freedom to make of it what he or she wishes. In contrast with the natural evocations of the form, the structure itself is constructed in a manner reminiscent of 3D computer graphics. Grid-like and rigid, it exposes the contrivance of the manmade, the fabricated environment.

I should note that I greatly dislike the term “viewer,” for my work is not designed simply for viewing. It is to be experienced, through active participation, which is why I much prefer to refer to such individuals as “participants,” “actors,” or just “the public.” So, in this sense, my pieces are physically stimulating, as well as visually, facilitating motion and movement throughout the carefully crafted space.

Several of the pieces that I have previously constructed have dealt with a physical notion of passage and happenstance. This “situation” that I have created for the library is more about destination. The library itself is a destination. You rarely just happen upon a library. Going to the library is a deliberate action, so for this piece I have endeavored to create a space that requires a similar activity. I anticipate that, perhaps initially out of curiosity, the public will make a decided choice to enter the installation, the “Situation Destination.” I like the idea that, if people respond positively upon their first encounter, this piece could also function as a destination to which to return. I see it acting as a haven of sorts. A place for folks to come and read, for children of all ages to come and hide out, a quiet escape, if only for a moment, from the commonplace.

bubble project

Added on by Jourdan.
So Jarod and I have been busting our butts trying to get things figured out for this collaboration of ours. We're learning a LOT about what it's like to work with fabricators... so far lots of frustration! We're in this weird limbo between "make or buy," which I learned in my Production and Operations Management class (I'm also a business major) is the most critical decision a manager can make. Well... it's not an easy one by any means!


We've got a budget for materials built into the grant, but since we've yet to get any kind of quote from fabricators, we have absolutely no clue if we can even afford the prototype! For weeks we've been perfecting a version of this digital 3D sketch-up model (pictured above), from which a mold will be cut, using a CNC router. Then, from the mold, we will have a number of plastic tiles vacuum-formed into the shape. The tiles will be aligned and set into a grid system (built by us) to form an undulating blanket of sorts.


Ultimately, we would like to have over 300 tiles made... but that will require further funding, so for our purposes this summer we would like to have at least 4 made by the time of our presentation in August. That's not too much to ask, is it?! Let's hope not! But just in case... we have decided to take matters into out own hands for the time being. Until we get some kind of estimate, we will continue to work on building the mold ourselves. This process involves bouncy balls of varying sizes, plaster galore, and lots and lots of patience. But at least it means we get to make a mess... there's something very satisfying about that...

mm mm MARFA

Added on by Jourdan.
I spent this past weekend in one of the most interesting of places... Marfa, TX.
Back in January, my professor, Jarod Charzewski and I applied for a CofC SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research with Faculty) grant. Despite the mounds of paperwork we knew it would entail we simply thought... why not? Our proposal was for what we called a "Collaborative Sculpture Project with Investigation into Minimalism." Both of us work within a fairly minimalist aesthetic, so we thought this a good ground upon which to collaborate. Oh yea... and we got the grant.

Though we spent several weeks pouring over books and vintage art magazine articles on the subject, we knew we couldn't properly "investigate" minimalism without visiting the "hub" of American minimalism itself... Marfa, TX. Back in the 1970's, artist and art critic Donald Judd moved out to west Texas. As Thoreau went to the woods, Judd went to the desert... to live deliberately. He wished to create spaces where his work (along with the work of several buddies among the likes of Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain) could be viewed as it was designed to be viewed... a place where the gap between art, architecture and landscape would be bridged... the result was the Chinati Foundation.

Judd said of Chinati...
"It takes a great deal of time and thought to install work carefully. This should not always be thrown away. Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again. Somewhere a portion of contemporary art has to exist as an example of what the art and its context were meant to be. Somewhere, just as the platinum iridium meter guarantees the tape measure, a strict measure must exist for the art of this time and place."

Judd's aluminum boxes are a perfect example of this notion....



(fantastic photos by Jennifer Charzewski)

I should note that, though I had seen countless pictures in books and online of these "boxes," not until I experienced them in person did I realize what they really were. I was blown away by the fact that I previously had absolutely no idea that they weren't solid cubes. On the exterior, each of the 100 boxes is identical, but the interior of each is entirely unique. And the effect is utterly magnificent... as seen above. The object is only one element in the work as a whole. The architecture and landscape are absolutely critical. The piece simply couldn't exist without them.

And so, to Marfa we went... it was quite the pilgrimage and I believe I'm all the wiser for it (or something like that?) Well... I learned a lot. I saw a lot of great work. Ate a lot of yummy tacos. Met up with a pretty cool dude from Philly. Got a taste of west Texas. And though I could ramble on Marfa for pages and pages, about the breathtaking landscape, the expanse of the starry night sky, the awesome/weirdo Judd estate/kingdom, the absurd amount of hipsters, the blah blah blah.... it's time (literally) for me to get to working on this "collaborative sculpture project" of ours. We've got some neat things in the works... stay tuned...

(Steve experiencing some Dan Flavin)

Franconia Sculpture Park: Artist Intern

Added on by Jourdan.
I've got some super neat things doing down this summer... and this is one of them!! I'll be up in Minnesota from June 15th - August 15th, living and working at the Franconia Sculpture Park. As an Intern Artist, my responsibilities will include working the grounds/park maintenance, assisting the Resident Artists with the fabrication of their work, and creating/constructing a piece of my own for inclusion in Franconia's 2010 exhibition! It's already proving to be a much bigger opportunity than I once realized.


can you find my name?!?!