Thursday, August 8, 2013


As an artist, I find inspiration everywhere.  Sometimes the power of an image demands a trip to see the original artwork.  Earlier this summer, I took that trip to see one of the most amazing sculptures in the world.  Nestled into the hills of South Dakota is this impressive sight.
Mount Rushmore has been on my personal "bucket list" for years, and I finally had the opportunity to visit this magnificent monument to see it in person.  As I gazed over the valley from the railing at the monument I burst into tears.  The sheer size of this sculpture is awe-inspiring, and the detail is beyond compare.  I found a book called The Carving of Mount Rushmore and I'm enjoying the story of the artist's journey and the negotiations behind the artwork - quite interesting indeed!
Other sculptures also inspire me, although these aren't nearly as massive - or as famous - as Mount Rushmore, they are magnificent in their own ways.  A friend of mine does very realistic sculptures of birds, down to the tiny lines cut into the feathers for realism.  I spent an afternoon with her and she allowed me to photograph some of her works in progress.

The Robin is life sized, and sitting on a tiny mug because his legs aren't completed yet, but I think you can see the fine detail in each tiny feather and brushstroke.  These small sculptures are done in wood and the feather details are done with a specialized wood burning tool.  Painstaking attention to detail is what makes this fellow lifelike enough to fool anyone into believing that he could take flight at any moment.  Although the landing would be difficult without legs....
I so enjoyed learning about how this kind of sculpting was done!  I don't think I'd have the patience to do it myself, but I can certainly see the care that goes into capturing the details in these tiny works of art.
This was a sculpture done with a sense of fun!  There were sculptures of many of the founding fathers on the benches lining the streets of Steamboat Springs in Colorado.  Here's a shot of my Mom with one of her heroes, the president Abraham Lincoln.  Such good sculpture work, and placed out in public where people can interact with the sculpture.  Nice to see such things in the current era of anything artistic being set behind ropes and guarded so as to be untouchable.  
There was one more sculpture in Steamboat Springs that really touched my inner artist and made my spirit sing for joy.  This one was in a small shopping mall, not too far from the place I was staying while in Steamboat Springs.  Made up of miscellaneous spare parts that most people would consider junk - and would throw away - this stunning work of art stands about 10 feet tall.  If I stood next to it, I'd just about fit under it's belly.
Another scupture - or maybe adornment is a better description - is found on the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.  Maybe it is kitsch - but I found it impressive in a quirky way.  The entire surface of the building is deorated with corn.  Here's an example that was set under glass to show how it is constructed.  First the finished image:

And then this example to show how it was accomplished.  I found this fascinating!  I knew corn was available in many colors, but this was not something I ever would have dreamed possible.  These panels were probably about three feet wide and two feet high.  Very interesting, and I thought it was a pretty neat way to decorate a wall.  Until I rounded the corner and saw the Corn Palace in all its wonder....

The whole building is covered with decorative murals and textured elements made of corn.  I had no idea how impressive it was until I saw it in person.  Weird, but wonderful in its own way.
Taking art three-dimensional makes it complex and inviting.  Art that can be considered from many more viewpoints than just flat on a wall is far more interesting to me than any other type.  Perhaps that is where my fascination with fiber art begins.  The ability to wrap fiber around a three dimensional form, whether it be a person or a structure never ceases to amaze me.  I love the trend of yarn-bombing that has taken hold.  These odd little bits of knitting that cover trees, benches, and bike racks have a sense of fun all their own.  I've seem images of this in various places, but never in person.  Maybe someday I'll find some - or maybe make some of my own!



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