Environmental art. What does that phrase mean, really?

Sometimes the phrase “environmental art” means creating art to draw attention to the beauty which surrounds us all the time while we live on our only home, which is the planet we call “Earth”. Sometimes “environmental art” means creating a thoughtful piece out of left-over material or even out of so-called “found objects”, in other words, other people’s trash. My newest project involves using the aftermath of an event that left many, many dry cleaning bags at my disposal. This work is intended as an installation, to be hung somewhere where others will be able to interact with the piece. I think it will be successful in drawing out all kinds of responses from others. The results should prove interesting…

After I cut strips from the bags, I weave them onto a branch I found on the ground in the aftermath of a large storm that swept through my area. This is where the name for the piece originated.

After finishing draping the first branch with plastic strips, I suspended the whole thing between two mobile shelf units to look at the result, so I could get a feel about how the whole thing might come together as well as what the piece might feel like upon completion.

I think it works so far, even without more draped branches. It reminds me of the way sea weed drapes itself over floating branches, which was something I didn’t really expect. It was suggested that I consider adding colored lighting to vary the effect of the plastic strips. I am not sure that will enhance the experience, but it might. I will think about that more as I continue to work on the piece.

Back to the Dragons of Spring and Summer

As I continue to work on the Steel Tornado, new ideas surface, including a possible addition in the shape and form of a free standing Chinese style dragon. As far as I know, dragons represented the coming of Spring and Summer, with accompanying rains, storms and heat. In the face of the extreme weather we experienced last week, in the form of a “direcho”, which left millions in my region of the country without power for a number of record breaking scorchingly hot and humid days, it seems right that one of these mythological, powerful creatures should stand outside the tornado, lending its’ strength to the weather event.

Sheet steel, cut and laid out with many spare parts.

I cut out multiple leg and claw options so that I may choose which pieces I like best. Once I have deformed the steel limbs, I will weld them onto the main body. Once that is done, I have a few more decisions to make about this piece: Is it valid on its own, or does it get added to the Steel Tornado.

Sheet steel cutouts of a dragon with one limb arrangement possiblity.

The dragon is laid out with possible leg arrangements so I can decide what I will do for the next step in this sculpture. I am not sure if this particular piece will be added to the Steel Tornado or if it will result in a unique piece that can stand on its own merits.

FINALLY! Tornado maquette images…

Before I started working on the Steel Tornado, I created a smal scale model, or “maquette”…good design practice instincts in full swing, you might say. Anyway, here are a couple images I just took of the maquette. It is destined to be a gift for a young friend who is obsessed with bad weather. May it help exorcise a demon or two!
The entire thing is made out of tie wire. The tornados are suspended from the cloud lines and the tornados can move a little. They are also removable. Talk about having ultimate control over a terrifying climatological event!

The creative process continues…

Last week saw the completion of the first phase of the Steel Tornado. The challenge now is to figure out a way to make the thing self-supporting… I guess this means I have more steel work ahead, but what fun it all is!

Prof. Valladara Lares holding the Steel Tornado during a review.