The Hubble Space Telescope was a window into the biggest questions that I could imagine until, just recently, when the James Webb Space Telescope superseded it. Seeing back in time toward the Big Bang, imagining quasars, distant star formation clouds and neutron star explosions all amaze me! As a bronze sculptor, I struggled to find a satisfactory way for this inspiration to come out in a metallic form. But I tried.
Forty years ago, I created a sculpture called “Discovery.” It was of a romantically clad researcher looking through a strange device with the intent of seeing something outside his normal purview. The Man & Technology Series, from which this sculpture came, was about our use of tech to expand us. “Discovery” was about expanding what we can see with the assumption that this will expand what we can understand. The JWST has brought this home big time! This detail of our technological exploration has inspired me to start all over with an entirely mew medium that I now call Amorphous Polymers, after the chemical processes that have been exploited in their creation.
"Discovery" 23"- Bronze - Created 1988
Epoxy resins can be combined with an astonishing array of other ingredients to surprising effects. Much like the scientists that I admire, I have gone through many experiments to see how they interact. What floats or sinks as they set, how patterns form depending on the specific chemistries that I introduce, and how the period of setup time and heat affects the behaviors of pattern development are all fascinating to me.
However, I want my narration to speak to the wonders of outer space, not just create patterns for the sake of abstract beauty. Although, I certainly appreciate beauty, I’m still a “narrative” sculptor after all. I’m just using a different medium. So I have taken inspiration from the images that Hubble and the JWST have allowed us to see of the infinite space around us. I hope my newest efforts with Amorphous Polymers honors the thousands of people, scientists, technologists, and a wide array of support people that make outer space exploration possible.
The slow process of epoxy setting up, from its liquid state to its solid state, also seems to put this art form into a geologic currency. They evolve over the many hours that it takes for the epoxy to set, like crystals forming in a geode or in the earth itself. By selecting the correct set speed, one can have my initial composition freeze as it is laid out or leave it to evolve so the reactions can play into their own compositions over time. I am able to start the process, and, with some experimentation, have learned how to steer the process, but the chaotic conclusion of how an Amorphous Polymer turns out seems to be controlled by a separate supernatural power. Rumpelstiltskin apparently finishes my work as I sleep. After I do my best to create a satisfactory composition, and after I go to sleep, Rumpel comes into the Studio and magically finishes the work before I wake in the morning, using the crystallization process inherent in my selected chemistries. The best part of this agreement is that Rumpel has promised to not steal my firstborn child if it does not turn out well. However, whether the end result fails or not, I am forced to take that result as my own either way. No blaming Rumpel allowed!
These Amorphous Polymers are not paintings, they are translucent, and hopefully transcendent, dimensional expressions of our exploration of outer space. They are not on a substrate like a traditional painting, but rather float in space and are viewable from both sides. Although they can be hung on a wall, they can also be hung in front of a window, or in free space to visually divide one area from another. They are poured in sequential layers, like sedimentary rock, with each layer adding to the dimension and composition of the work. So, one side doesn’t look identical to the other. The same as how astronomy does not just “see” space, it “sees through” space. Amorphous Polymers are designed to be seen “through,” like outer space, not just looked “at.”
"Blue Dawn" 34" - Epoxy - Created 2022
We are also designing tables and chandeliers and large public installations that use these techniques. More on those next time.
Let us know if you have specific opportunities that the Amorphous Polymer methods might be applied to. mce