The Pedvale Open Air Art Museum lies in a magnetic field. The magnetic force lines of this field interact with the large granite and iron sculptures to create some unusual magnetic effects. The lifting ringon my sculpture, Sekimori Ishi attracts the north pole of a magnetic compass. On the other side of the park, Carl Billingsley’s sculpture Iron Lightning click for photo of Iron Lightning (Dzelzs zibens) attracts the opposite south pole. In essence, these two sculptures form a large magnet in the park. Other sculptures in the park are similarly magnetized.
My sculpture was based on the traditional Japanese sekimori ishi. Here is a photo of one in use in a Japanese garden.
I am interested in visual symbols, particularly ones that may convey multiple meanings.
Sekimori ishi means boundary guard stone. It tells you that a path is closed, but also provdes a convenient handle for moving the stone, so that you can ignore the message. It is not a “Keep Out” sign, but is more of a polite suggestion. The tea master Rikyu is said to have used it as a metaphor for “stay on the right path in life”.
This is a symbol that contains its opposite, much like Nabuo Sekine’s Mono Ha sculpture, Phase-Mother Earth at Suma Rikyu Park.
The idea behind the sculpture was to include multiple opposites, in addition to this implied restriction and permission of the object itself. The boulder is natural and unworked, while the iron is man made and cast. The upright stone is male, but the rounded form with the ring is female. The boulder is positive space, the iron encloses negative space. Yin and yang. Hot iron and cold stone.
The design of the iron is based on my youth in Pittsburgh. This engraving shows my neighborhood a century before I was born. I grew up playing on coal mine dumps, and there were coal mines under my neighborhood. I got to see lots of early ironwork, some of it in the form of machinery that still worked for decades. My neighborhood was on the third hill from the river.
You can view this sculpture as my desire for you to stay on the right path. As it mimics the aesthetics of 19th and early 20th century iron, it can also mean that you should avoid the excesses of 19th century industrialization and capitalism, or not, as you wish.
Other viewers have other ideas of what the sculpture means. Possibly due to Mylie Cyrus, some view it as a wrecking ball. I deny this, and the design was started before her video. On the other hand, if you make a wrecking ball video or photo using this sculpture, please send me a copy.
Several people have seen this as a kraken, devouring the rock. Although octopi have eight tentacles, and squid have ten, I can see this visually.
Uther people have suggested that this looks like an ancient anchor. Anchors are a traditional symbol of hope, so I enjoyed this idea. After the sculpture was made, I found this large buoy anchor in Latvia.
Carol Johnson has written that this reminds her of a bell. I have cast bells, although they have been much smaller than this. I would not want to try to ring it. What is the sound of one boulder ringing?
My plans changed a bit from the initial proposal, which was to cast iron directly around the granite. See my previous post about cultural resource management, and choosing the stone. I could not have completed this sculpture without the help of my assistants, Sutton Demlong and Justin Playl. Both were highly recommended by Tamsie Ringler.