This piece was a response to a class assignment: “Make a landscape, but no pastoral scenes; something new.” It was the only time that I have ever been instructed: “sculpt this.” Every other work–before and since–has been whatever I felt like making; here I had to create something constrained by another’s wishes. When the teacher first announced this, it ticked me off. I’d had a great design in mind for my metal sculpture–a stainless steel wind vane, a very stylized representation of the geometry of the cerebral cortex, called Flight of Fancy–and I had to trash it (or shelve it, anyway). I took a break, had a cigarette, and this idea struck me. It took less than twenty minutes to shift gears from the design which had previously obsessed me to this new vision.
I decided to represent Russian Hill–a feature every San Franciscan knows–the way most locals experience it: through the MUNI public transit system. Round rod represents the electric coaches; flat bar represents the diesel coaches; and threaded rod represents the cable cars. It’s pretty close to accurate scale–the vertical scale is exaggerated 20 times relative to the horizontal–but a little license was taken here and there.
Seven Hills of Muni, #1: Russian Hill (2011)
approx. 75cm x 90cm x 75cm
scale: 1:1700 horizontal ; 1:85 vertical
This piece was displayed at the ArtSeed year-end exhibition: ArtSeed and the Golden Gate: 75 reasons why we are the bridge, in July 2012.
ArtSeed is a San Francisco-based art-education charity that works with disadvantaged youth throughout the city. From their website:
Youngsters with learning differences, financial obstacles, and/or discipline problems learn practical skills and professional habits that give form to their own unique, creative gifts.
The year-end exhibition featured art by ArtSeed students, mentors (mostly professional artists and art educators), and a few unaffiliated artists (like me).