PAIS Artist Residency


Using materials from and found at Padre Island National Seashore itself – sand, clay, gypsum, a paint referencing an area plant, sea hearts, and 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.


Grackles in the prickly pear are being mapped out.


Each of the motifs in the work would like to contain both relief and fresco. This “sculptural fresco” approach has created new layers of problem-solving but exciting ideas. In addition, each motif will evolve from a small scale to the larger, more dimensional completed design. Here the technical issues are worked out with the motif inspired by the speckled crab.

Fresco Drafts

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


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.


The template arrives and is pieced together.


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.


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


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.


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.