I started building structures from wild grapevine and willow in the 70’s as an exercise to better understand my drawing style. Over time, my line drawings had become flat. I needed a way to physically make the dimension I was lacking and I found the solution in willow and wild grapevines. By wrapping and bending the pliable natural material I could see the line becoming form. I eagerly applied this technique of building a line into my charcoal, pencil, and pen and ink drawings. My drawings came to life with form, intensity, and gesture.
I made this drawing of the opera elephant in early March. On March 20, I began construction. I purposely exaggerated my original drawing in size, stance, head, ears and trunk to make not just any elephant, but an Aida elephant.
From March 20 to June 26 I worked every day but three, in the rain, heat, cold, wind building elephants in my driveway, which I fondly call my studio. The bugs kept me attentive and the birds charmed me with song and flight. Over time the elephant came to life as a natural habitat. Every morning for a week I upended a robin’s attempt to build a nest in the trunk of the big elephant. It made me sad but I knew the Momma robin would never find her nest once the elephant was moved. Recently two finches have been flying down the trunk of the elephant into the belly to fly in circles as fast as they can. When they have had enough they rocket back out of the trunk. Most days an army of bugs parade on top and around the vines and willows looking very busy doing whatever bugs do all day.
Here is a list of interesting facts in building these elephants.
1. I gathered and cut over 40 truckloads of vines.
2. I bought and ruined 12 pairs of Dollar Store gardening gloves.
3. In pulling vines I fell down numerous times. “Viner down!”
4. John is my engineer. Helen is my assistant.
5. I learned to like ladders.
Constructed with sustainable materials, my sculptures do have a life span. Over time, through the seasons, the willow and vine become gray and delicate. It is the natural component of the art.
Questions? Please, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org