Location: Penn State University, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA,
Explanation: This is a rammed earth artwork that I created when I was 28 years old.
It was created on the sloped embankment of a new freeway, at the edge of a college campus. It is a land art sculpture created in the tradition of art-outside-the-white-cube (see Brian O'Doherty, Artforum, 1976), late 1960s United States large-scale Earthworks. I was trained in sculpture from this era by my postgraduate advisor, Michael Hall and his colleagues Dennis Oppenheim and Oppenheim's former wife, Alice Aycock as well as Richard Nonas All of these land artists worked with sculptor Michael Hall, who coordinated the outdoor land art exhibition on site at Cranbrook Academy of Art in the 1970s - 1990s.
The difference in that previous tradition to my 1990s artwork was that mine was made 'by hand' (perhaps making it an early form of post-millennium 'craftivism'). This land art piece was constructed by making walls which were made from a slurry of earth, then compressed in 'formwork' (which was then removed - creating a type of mould over several hundred "man" hours and after moving several hundred tons of earth).
I wanted the artwork to represent the changes brought to the college campus by a newly constructed freeway and sound barrier wall adjacent to the campus. The "tail" symbolizes the change/chaos of a dragon's energy…traveling down the slope and acting as a continuation and yet, diversion, of the original concrete sound barrier. Also, I liked the juxtaposition of the hard concrete sound barrier against my creation, the 'soft' earthwork sculpture, a fibrous material sometimes called pise de terre (an alternative form of architecture).
The sculpture was in place for two years, during which time it gradually disintegrated back into the earth. I wanted the piece to reflect or mirror the historic arboretum, situated directly opposite, on another rise, on the other side of the campus.
Schematic and Isometric Drawing
The Concrete Formwork company, Vimco, donated the use of the rammed earth mould.
Terra Flux - collaboration with David Scott-Risner
8 X 8 X 8 ft cube 1998, Horsehead International Sculpture Exhibition
This cube was made with compressed soil, the interior of
which is a hollow column (built from marine-grade plywood) filled with
water which was released into the soil cube through a series of weep
holes and sprayers. Seeds imbedded in the soil, both wild and inserted,
grew over a four month period, thus, changing the earth cube as an
intended part of the sculpture. The entire concrete basin was 'washed'
with a spray from the PVC piping along its length - set to a timer,
every hour. A pump funneled the water into the column itself. The sound
of the water, the birds and insects which gathered, including a host of
dragonfly larvae, all became a part of this living sculpture.