More about Year One

Inspired by the story of the dawn redwood species, which recently and mysteriously reappeared after a 50 million year absence from the fossil record. It just started over again. The thought I have is that we, too, start over again after long absences, every year is a re-beginning, and you bring a whole other world with you that you may feel was lost or unknown.

It all started with a branch breaking off the tree in a storm. It's such a sturdy tree, this doesn't happen often. It caught my eye and then sat in the studio until a few years later. I was reading a science article comparing theories on the origin of birds— running dinosaurs lifting up from the ground versus tree-dwellers launching from branches and learning to glide. Why leave anywhere? Because you must. The ground becomes too dangerous or hot or whatever, branches break, so in either case getting feathers and wings serves you well.

I wanted to make something as ambitious as the dawn redwood. I watch it in the yard: the seedlings seem to take root in unlikely places and the mature trees grow fast and very tall. it's like they don't know what they're getting into, but maybe they do, looking very sweet but not to be pushed around.

The figure that emerged from this correspondence with a tree branch includes some very long appendages, one of which floats freely in the air. When I started out using copper tubing in my work, it was in tightly closed loops, so this is an important step. Here I saw the opportunity and need to design structures that are more like branches. The whole work has a sense of fluidity, and that's good because I'm not a tightly fixed type of person. It's not a mobile exactly, but it does sway, much like trees. Now I'm looking at sculpture as a thing with sway and give, in many ways. It's in the same genre as mobiles, soft sculpture, and time art—all a world apart from the solid monumental stationary tradition, which I also admire.

Year One continues my exploration of the open figure, which takes the outer surface as sort of shell. Why? Efficiency and experience: you don't need all the mass like you get in a stone carving and if you leave it as an open volume it's really much more like what goes on in our bodies, permeable to air, viruses, bacteria, chemicals of every sort.