Monument to Monument
I was raised in central Minnesota and spent many summers' day hunting for agates along roads of dirt. Agates are a natural gemstone and although are not precious in a monetary sense are extremely beautiful in their coloration and individual distinctiveness. The granite I selected for this sculpture was as close as I could get to agate.
The Obelisk is rotated off its base at a nine-degree angle. My intent by this gesture was to open up and activate the two forms. It obliquely refers to the monumenting process that occurred at the beginning twentieth century along the 49th parallel to define the boundary between the United States and Canada. This final section of the boundary between the two countries is 1,270.2 miles in length (from Minnesota to Washington state) and is described by 926 markers whose visibility from one to the next is maintained by clear cutting a 20 foot wide swath through the underbrush and trees. All of these markers are primarily in the form of an Obelisk and they continue to be reset or replaced when necessary. This borderline and it's maintenance by both governments is expressed by the slight rotation of the Obelisk off it's base while the title, "MONUMENT TO MONUMENT," is a direct reference to this continuing process.
On a more abstract level, this sculpture refers to yet another sculpture that is one of the hallmarks of twentieth century art. It was created by an artist known more for his paintings than sculptures, Barnett Newman. This other sculpture is composed of a pyramid with an inverted Obelisk balanced on the apex of the pyramid. The title of this quite famous sculpture is "Broken Obelisk." Still more abstractly but none the less relevant, "MONUMENT TO MONUMENT," refers to the three branches of the United States government. The judicial, legislative and executive arms of our government are symbolized by the foundation, base and shaft of this sculpture. Once again, the motion that is suggested by it's rotation is reflective of the movement and slight flexibility that our government is capable of despite it's monolithic bureaucracy and the almost granitic flow of time that it seems to produce.
This sculpture remains firmly grounded in it's relationship to my body through the scale and material. Physically this work moves me back in time to my childhood and my initial contact with forms and material. Specifically blocks of wood that my father generously provided me with which I had hours of wonderfully simple play. But in the end, this sculpture seemed to shrug off all of my desires of communication and meaning. The unique energy and conditions that formed this stone are expressed effortlessly by it's coloration and dramatic flow of lines. The severe geometrical form that contains this unique set of natural qualities adds to it's beauty and I believe creates a monument to the stone itself.