A Ripple Effect in Stone and Steel

As part of its 40th anniversary, the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont commissioned me to create a permanent, interactive, environmental art piece. The result is a 1,000 sq. ft. dry stone and stainless steel sculpture that rises like a geologic upthrust from the open space alongside the museum entryway. Visitors can walk, climb and sit on the undulant surfaces of the work, or, simply view it on their way to, and from, the building.

In keeping with the mission of the Montshire to offer exploration of the natural and physical sciences to its visitors, I created an environment inspired by a force of nature. A raindrop hitting the surface of water causes a splash and ripples. Frozen at the moment of impact by still photography, the liquid medium can appear to have solid structure and monolith stature. The splashes vary widely in form but the ripples follow a predestined pattern. My aim was to capture and abstract the essence of the physics involved, in stone. The impact of two raindrops and their intersecting waves are characterized super large-scale in “Ripple Effect”.

In addition to seven, fabricated, stainless steel elements, a variety of Vermont and New Hampshire stone types were employed in the piece, including, schist, slate, granite and quartz. They were all dry-set in a deep bed of crushed stone. I invented a number of temporary jigs to guide the shape of the stone surfaces as they grew. Most stones received some trimming with a hammer to improve their fit in the construction.

I am ever grateful for the support of the Montshire Museum staff in bringing “Ripple Effect” to life. Huge thanks to the Art at Montshire Team - Marcos, Sherlock, Anne, and Bob, and to Beth, Sarah, Gary, Burke, Jennifer, Heidi, Ann and Rebecca. Site preparation was masterfully done by Jason at Fornwalt Excavation. For exceptional metalwork in creating the “flash” in the splash I have Alex and Josh at Renaud Brothers Steel Fabrication, and Mark and Silas at DMS Machining & Fabrication to thank. To the many museum patrons who cheered me on during the two months of making, I thank you and apologize for being unable to respond to your comments and questions (had to save my breath for rock punching).

The creation and installation of the sculpture is made possible by donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund.