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The sculpture began with contemplative walking around the open spaces of the Herman Melville Museum grounds. I found myself drawn to the Grove area of large, older trees, planted over two centuries ago, near the homestead. The spacious stretch of lawn, along the south facing architectural planes of the Melville home, also became of interest to me, for its openness and the view from there, of the Melville homestead, looking through the quiet, shaded space of the centuries old trees.

I found myself appreciating the color and light qualities of the rising and setting sun, as it swept through the tall pines, creating a dance of sunlight and tree shadow, alongside the south face of the building. It felt like the site-specific sculpture created for this project, would be constructed somehow, within that grove area, between the Herman Melville house and museum building, and the expansive lawn that stretches out in front of the museum’s Visitor  Entrance, and extends back toward the meadow and hill horizon of the setting sun.

The vision was to create an intricate, subtle, relatively lightweight, kinetic sculptural form, that would move gently within the outdoor air currents, of that chosen space. The intention became clear, to make a kinetic sculptural form, that in a quiet, delicate way, with the most minimalist accumulation of sculptural weight and mass, would activate the spatial dimension, within the outdoor, environmental container of the ground, the strong, wide, upward extending vertical tree trunks, and their horizontal, outward extending, lower branches. This sculpture would bring attention to the range of unique qualities, both obvious and subtle, of this particular “Place” of nature, culture, history and mystery, in full 360 degree, (North, South, East, West, and above, below), spheres of awareness, for the viewer, through their contemplation of the sculpture’s slow, subtle, linear movements as he or she walks around it and follows with curiosity and attention, the motion and interaction of the sculpture’s forms, inner spaces and directions.

During the months of June and July, I began to work on the formal and spatial concept for an ephemeral, but strong, stable and weather durable, large scale mobile, for that specific site on the museum grounds. It needed a design that could be installed with the support of one assistant for one full day on site, and then four additional days on site, working solo. It needed to be created with respect and sensitivity for all the elements and factors involved; environmental, historic and social. It needed to be visualized and constructed with intuition, allowing for a process of solitary focus, while composing and creating by hand, as I engineered the necessary spatial balances of the mobile into form and completion, on site.

I designed a plan for a kinetic sculpture made within the limits of what I could construct with the use of rope, thread, two ladders and no more weight per material element, than I could carry, lift, move and arrange in space, single handedly. Hand carved, sanded saplings, and varieties of thread, are two materials I have worked with for large scale, spatial sculptures, over many decades. With those intricate, linear elements and materials, I sculpturally activate large space, or the void,…“drawing in space”… in a limitless range of site sensitive and site specific ways. I realized that those particular simple, linear sculptural elements were best suited for this new outdoor project, to support my intension to make a work with emphasis on a particular kind of motion, subtlety and metaphors... “meta-forms”, …for visual contemplation and slow, careful, mindful duet-like interactions, between a viewer and the sculpture’s form, inner spaces and unique range of motion.

Throughout the weeks of June and July I worked on twelve saplings, ranging in length from 15’ to 24’. The carved and sanded saplings are regional silver, gold, black, white, and yellow, Birch. As elements of the kinetic sculpture, each sapling is suspended from secure rope lines in the lower branches of the glade, within the quiet, cool shade of the open ground space of the Grove. The sculptural elements are choreographed in spatial relationship to each other, in ways that best allow them to extend outward, as they spin slowly, into the wider expanse of the long, open area of the sun bathed lawn. Each carved linear sapling is positioned within the slow, gently moving, breathing sculpture, balanced from its center, joined to the whole by a vertical waxed thread.

The sculpture is made, element by element, to allow for and support, a maximum of potential motion of parts to whole. Each carved sapling is placed horizontally centered and positioned amongst the others, to enable the most expansive full range spiraling, subtle swirling, overlapping, circling and inter-connecting, of each arrow-like line, or bow-like arc, within the continual contraction and expansion of the overall volume of the sculptural form.

The piece is composed intentionally, to collaborate with the air currents that flow through the space of the site, giving the potential experience of something, which in simple, visual, linear form, moves as if it reveals a space that is both breathing, and when the currents are alive, begins to slowly dance with the awareness, experiential sensitivities and in attunement with the breath of the observer.

The sculpture welcomes and encourages, mindful contemplation of its unique range of movements, and its relationships to all that it is a participating part of, positioned and gently moving, within this historic and environmental site. It invites a mindful contemplation of the movements of the swaying, willow-like branches of the elder fir trees, the changing sunlight and shadows moving like waves over and between all the various forms and elements, the ever changing colors between each linear form, as one shifts perspective to the blue sky, the greens and browns of the plant life and grounds, the related colors of the Melville Museum homestead, the vibrant, red barn, as well as contemplation of the sounds of wind and breezes that are in duet with the sculpture and the trees it presently lives amongst.

It also succeeds, as hoped, ( based on many shared creative conversations with viewers during the Guild of Berkshire Artists summer exhibit, “A Whale of A Show” ), in inspiring a mindful, embodied experience, as one quiets into a state of self-reflection and heightened attention, to each thought, feeling or sense awareness, as it arises, as we sit awhile with the piece, or move slowly around, within, and one with, this “Whale Bones, Whale Song” sculpture in motion, which offers up gentle viewer engagement with this sculpture’s subtle, quiet, soft movement-duet, with the inner spaces of this unique outdoor place.