PAIS Artist Residency

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Using materials from and found at Padre Island National Seashore itself – sand, gypsum, pigments referencing area plants, sea hearts, and plastic garbage – a large sculpture with a spiral component is underway.  It will highlight and celebrate the general areas of the landscape (Gulf, Shore, Dunes, Grasslands, Mud Flats, and Laguna Madre).  You can follow along on its progress here, and more images are available on our Instagram and Facebook accounts.  Enter below for a chance to win one of our limited edition pieces from the sculpture.

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*This artwork was produced under the Artist-in-Residence Program at Padre Island National Seashore.*

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Packing the pieces for the journey to Texas…

All twelve motifs together - the bulk of the spiral is made up of details of many of these, and we think it will be fun for visitors to match them to the final, full motifs.

All twelve motifs together – the bulk of the spiral is made up of details of many of these, and we think it will be fun for visitors to match them to the final, full motifs.

Baskets and bins are filling with frescoes as we enter the final days of production. The moisture is being gently forced from the pieces to minimize the risk of mold in the Texas humidity, and each cap is receiving its finish of bronze paint.

Baskets and bins are filling with frescoes as we enter the final days of production. The moisture is being gently forced from the pieces to minimize the risk of mold in the Texas humidity, and each cap is receiving its finish of bronze paint. This particular basket is from Faith, who filled it with Divine gifts (including bottle caps!) to cheer us on. Bless you!

The sea heart – a seed from a tropical vine – endures for miles in the ocean and often washes up bearing the wounds of its journey. This is the only motif through which light shines, making it a unifying symbol because the cast light and shadow touch the other pieces in the spiral. Sea heart, repurposed plastic, bronze, shaped sand, and light.

Deer speaks of gentleness. Those encountered on the island were some of the loveliest sights and memory-makers.

The gaillardia – also known as the firewheel, Indian blanket flower, or sundance – is a flower with connotations of both strength and joy. Designed with artist Sean D. Kramer.

Beautiful Baptisia pods reference the balance of inner and outer experience. The pods are joined by sea whip (the red border in each piece) and fresco “wounds.”

This vine holds together the mobile dunes of the island, is the stability underlying the beauty.

Impressions of natural marks on the shore comprise one sculptural motif.

The Opuntia motif symbolizes endurance: she has neither flower nor fruit…yet.

Turtle teaches us patience and its role in survival. Padre Island National Seashore protects five species of sea turtles.

The Triskelion carries ancient, positive symbolism centered in moving through creation with respect and grace. Fashioned from three fragile spirals found on the Gulf shore.

As with each of the twelve motifs, the Sand Dollar (using the lesser-known side of the creature for inspiration) motif contains sacred symbolism. We like the luminosity in this simple fresco design.

The Speckled Crab motif takes its pattern from that creature as well as references the sacred geometry found in rose windows.

A motif comprised of man-made marks found on the shore references our presence and impact upon the landscape.

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Each dot in our seven foot diameter spiral is a repurposed bottle cap from the shore that houses an original artwork. When these black dots are replaced with the artworks, the sculpture will have a very different look from the one you may imagine in viewing this template.

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The last of the impressions are being taken from the land and the twelve motif drafts are nearly complete.

Fresco Drafts

The slow development of fresco motifs and a handful of impressions from the shore…

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There are currently twelve repeating motifs to be designed – two per area in the park – and they must be able to be reproduced on different scales while each remaining handmade. The next few weeks will be spent developing these as well as gathering refuse from the shore to house them.

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The template arrives and is pieced together.

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Why a spiral? This symbol can be thought of as the armature and conceptual theme for the work underway: it is found throughout nature and is considered sacred and healing by many cultures. I wanted a base to work from that would reference this and, to a lesser but related extent, a rose window (also sacred to more than one culture) as a lens through which one might see the park’s protected contents with new eyes.

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One of the plaster impressions taken from the landscape. These may be combined with small fresco paintings.

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A fondness for the grackles has developed (for reasons recorded in the journaling component of the residency). They will likely show up somewhere in the sculpture.

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The amount of garbage that washes ashore is staggering. With a little help from the staff, some of it is being repurposed for the sculpture.

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Initial brainstorming, which is now giving way to preparations for fresco and relief work.