Granite Jenga

What could be a more direct expression of form than molding earth in one’s hands? While the modes of earth shaping may vary, the impulse is ages old and remains strong as ever. My personal choice for satisfying the desire for hands-on interpretation of the earthly elements is the manipulation and configuration of loose stone. Within that narrow frame a wide variety of creative endeavors can be manifest.

Each project starts with a hypothesis in the form of a question. “If I want to get to z, what do u, v, w, x and y have to look like?” Each part must stand on its own and also support the work ahead. With “Granite Jenga”, the final form only became clear on the last day of the week’s activities.

Before the final work could be planned and executed a process for the procurement of the sculptural elements had to be invented. Drilling and splitting equipment, along with an electric generator, was hauled up a mountain trail to a place where I’d found two large slabs of granite. The client’s property was both a material resource and a hurdle to get over. The surface of the mountain is littered with stone loosened from the bedrock by the last ice age. The abundance is a blessing but also a challenge to navigate through. As one 9’ long bar successfully split out after another, my hypothesis began to prove itself.

With twelve bars transported down to the building site I was ready to theorize a method of assembly that would take advantage of the qualities present in the freshly quarried granite. Such a sterling collection of shapes deserved full exposure in the completed artwork. To that end I devised an open, lattice style of construction. Before beginning the assembly I racked the cobble base into a parallelogram outline to help make the final form the most dynamic spatial experience possible.

“Granite Jenga” may look nothing like a pre-columbian clay figurine or a pre-colonial flint arrowhead but it shares a common ancestry with their ken. Their maker’s vision came out of a similar desire to see earth transfigured.