Shelby County Arts Council at Old Mill Square, Columbiana, Alabama
SUSTENANCE: AGRICULTURE, ART, INDUSTRY
Virtually all of man’s activity is in pursuit of SUSTENANCE, physical, intellectual or spiritual.
The proposed sculpture is inspired by Shelby county’s agricultural history, industrial history and the arts all of which bind us together, creating our current culture.
The authentic mill stone, found on the site of the new building, is fitted with an interpretation of the steel apparatus that would have existed when the mill was operational. This mechanism was used to hoist the top or runner stone off the bottom or bed stone for routine maintenance and alignment. The mechanism also tied into whatever power source drove the runner stone. The mill stone, sited on the circular plaza, is an homage to the agricultural history that preceded us. It is a tool that was used to grind grains into breads and other sustaining products. The steel tower is a reference to the only remaining smoke stack that exists at the site of the Shelby Iron Works, Shelby, Alabama. This rusty tower suggests it age. It supports a crucible pouring bronze through a port at the top and into the space under the tower. The tower and the pouring metal are all direct references to the areas industrial history which provided sustenance to that working community. It is also a reference to some of the studio activity that will take place within the new facility.
Directly below the pouring bronze is an abstracted foundry flask. A flask was used to contain the mold which received the molten metal. The mold within the flask would be the negative form of whatever was being cast. In this sculpture the flask contains a mold of a simple loaf of bread. Also sited on the circular plaza is simple contemporary stainless steel pedestal table. The top is covered by a white bronze table cloth. On the table is a cast bronze loaf of bread. It is in this feature that I attempt to tie the agricultural and industrial past together and reference our contemporary culture . The shiny stainless steel table, the white table cloth and the basic humble bread are all symbols of our dependence on agriculture and industry in all of its forms. These ideas are being visually explored through a contemporary sculpture and sited on the campus of an Arts facility. This suggests the wonderful manner in which the arts couple with other aspects of our society and together form a unique culture.