A Matter of Scale
by Sam McFarlane
My project involved the creation of a series of figurative sculptures that are similar in characteristics, but dramatically different in scale. I began by creating a set of small, five to six inch, bronze figures. These figures were initially sculpted out of wax and then cast into bronze using the ‘lost-wax’ process. Through the creation of this set, I intended to explore the way in which the human body expresses itself, and I believe I accomplished this goal. Although, as expected, I felt they lacked a sense of presence due to their scale. I attempted to compensate this deficiency by creating architecturally suggestive environments. I experimented with different materials such as wood and metal, but eventually chose clay. Ceramic materials have inherent natural qualities such as texture and weight that are suggestive of our own environment. The addition of the environments resulted in a pleasant combination of the human figure with geometrical surroundings. Even after this effort, I knew that I needed to explore scale.
The heart of this project was my effort to create a piece that appeared complete on its own in any given environment. I believed this could be accomplished by dramatically increasing scale to life-size or greater. Using the sculptural styles of the small six-inch pieces, I completed two eight-foot tall figures. The internal structure is wooden which was then encased with wire mesh. The gauze was then saturated with plaster and draped until completely covering the body. After much experimentation with paints and coatings, I chose an iron based resin to coat the plaster. I then sprayed an acid based coating that triggered rust. This extra effort was necessary to establish perceived weightiness that plaster lacks in comparison to bronze metal.
The resulting set of sculpture displays the significance of scale and the way size affects the presence of sculpture. I am thankful for the King Grant which allowed me the flexibility and ability to experiment with these variances in scale and material.