The Strata series: 1) uses car parts almost exclusively, 2) is constructed of layers (1/2″ to 1″ depth), 3) is created using the “response” method, 4) has colour decisions made after the structural ones.
I use car parts mostly because I want to make something benign from something, the car, that I feel is malignant. Car parts come in a vast array of sizes and shapes. To fabricate even a single part similar to the complexity of a car part would consume much of my time. So, in a sense, car parts are a short cut to the rich metal tapestries I want to create. The fact that they are mass produced and relatively easy to acquire makes them less “precious”. Mass production allows ready symmetry, patterns and a kind of animation- in that a group of identical parts can move from a whole part to a partial part in a series of reductions.
Building these pieces in layers makes a subtly ever-changing piece based on point of view. In addition, shadows play a significant part in how the work is perceived.
By the response method, I mean that these pieces arise from a kind of dance with the parts. I have no idea what the piece is going to look like when I begin–only through response to the parts and exploration of their interaction does the piece finally evolve.
The entire structure of the piece is completed before I begin the process of finishing/colouring. The support legs are cut to allow the layers to be painted. When finishing is done, the support legs are re-welded and final touch-up is done.
HAPPY BACTERIA: As with almost all my work, responding to materials, car parts, is my creative process. Exploring oval shapes in separator plates from automatic transmissions and concurrently exploring welding clutch springs together led to the concept of bacteria. I created 3 layers, a background of tire tread patterns (on plywood), a middle layer of clutch springs and seat springs and the top layer or shell of separator plates with oval pill shapes cut out of them. These bacteria needed bright colours and the surface shapes needed enhancing with dots.
HAPPY BACTERIA measures 19 x 27 x 3 inches
MECHANICAL LANDSCAPE 2: This sculpture began as what I call a hood skeleton from a Honda. Hoods come with 2 layers, the skin and the skeleton or frame. This particular hood skeleton was amazingly asymmetrical for some mysterious reason (nothing about the engine or components seemed to have anything to do with the skeleton shape). Circular parts are often difficult to deal with as a circle has a certain immaculateness, but in this case I imposed a circle onto this amorphous shape. Aerial photography has some influence because the muffin tins I added to the piece reminded me of fuel storage tanks. I always add colour as a second step, making the layers so they can be disassembled, painted and reassembled.
MECHANICAL LANDSCAPE 2 measures 36 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep.
CARNIVAL: A multi-layered work made form a variety of car parts including a car door inner panel (the best part), clutch springs, automatic transmission, manual clutch parts and flanges from oil pans. Once the structure was finished, the layers were cut apart, painted and re-welded.
CARNIVAL measures 25 x 18 x 3 inches
ELECTRIC WATERMELON just flowed from my response to separator plates from an automatic transmission. As with all my work, colour comes after structure is finished so I actually have to make these pieces so I can take them apart once the structure is finished. I just tack weld the joins between the layers, cut them when finished, paint the layer, reweld the joins and touch up any paint damage. In this case since the last layer is “wrapped” around. the last layer was painted in place. The middle layer is assembled clutch components and the back layer is sheet metal painted turquoise.
Made entirely of recycled manual clutch parts, AUTOPUDDLE springs from the artist’s appreciation of a part, in this case a “spring” that has a complex shape ( it can be seen on the upper surface of the piece)–the whole work derived from the artist wanting to interact with that part and enhance the feeling that it brought to him. As the top layer developed, the artist began to sense a water theme and from there thinking of the drawing by Escher of the woodland pool with leaves on the surface., the artist began the lower layer as the detritus at the bottom of the puddle. Colour was added to the top layer while the lower layer was rusted.
Another detail of this piece to note is that the upper layer is larger than the lower layer giving the piece a reversed truncation. While the artist constructed the piece by response, in hindsight, he can see that this truncation is inspired both the the topography of a puddle and by the concept of refraction.
HUSK to some degree came out of the artist’s background in pottery. Having used molds commonly for his clay work, the artist created a wood “mold” for this piece allowing him to work from the outside in. This meant that the low relief surface was built up by layering recycled car parts into the mold. This process kept the welding hidden. The final layer was recycled olive oil cans (you can see the printed sides of them on the back of the piece). A central void was included, which once the artist removed the piece form the mold, he felt should be something complex and colourful. The artist chose an aluminum valve body from an automatic transmission for the complexity and the pattern was enhanced through colour. Husk actually is fairly light weight, but gives the impression of great mass.