THE COLUMBIA RIVER DAM SYSTEM CORE PORTRAITS.
An artistic interpretation in sculpture of the historic and contemporary impressions along the Columbia River Gorge.
The opportunity to pursue a new direction of representing stone as primary material for sculpture began in my Troutdale studio in March 2013. Previously my concentration and concern had been centered around ice and ice core conditions in arctic and alpine areas. The translucence and light refraction in ice became my primary focus. However, upon the recent acquisition of the new stone core collection of the Columbia Dam system, these geologic and technical cores not only had a different purpose, but also a different aesthetic quality and color tone from the previous ice material. The shape and form of the cores themselves lent a sculptural reality to fracturing, stacking, and combining these simple shapes.
After considering the potential of these new materials, tests and design experiments wereconducted to find the best way to visually support or “platform” the heavy cores. The stone material was too opaque and dense to achieve any surface sculptural interest of their own. Additional organic materials were located at various dams along the river wash of the Columbia system, and were then combined in an aesthetic effort to lift and elevate the stone material.
Selected wood, branch, and root remnants for inclusion were also combined into the designs. Phrases and words as texture were added into some of the pieces. Because of the dense and enormous weight of the original cores, their forms were replicated, adding subtle hints of tones and colors.
These works are currently an on-going investigation representing a portrait of the entire river system, which includes: Washington state, British Columbia, and Canada’s river systems.
Historic, geologic, and contemporary events and actions relating to the Columbia River system have been added into the sculptures, with visual and literary references to historic treaties and regional significant events spanning the Second World War to the current period.