Forms on a Catenary Curve

Wire cable, carbon fiber composite
Approximately 50-meter span

This is the full, large-scale version of a smaller maquette that I made late last year (see previous post).

A catenary is the curve a cable takes under its own weight. It has one spot level to the ground; then in either direction it becomes increasingly angled. The five forms have the same parts but the angle between two of the pieces varies, allowing each to stand in balance, adapting to its particular circumstances.

After making the small maquette in wood and cable, I had what seemed at the time to be an overly-audacious goal of expanding it in scale and bringing it outdoors, where it would be vulnerable to the elements, but where perhaps the perceived ‘adaptability’ of each of the five elements would be more accentuated.

The ideas behind the piece are the same as for the maquette, but the technical challenges of making a 50-meter span that would hold five sculptures, plumb and vertical, outdoors in the fierce winds that hit that region, were significant. I learned a huge amount from this project, and it won’t be the last time that I explore this type of direction.

I made this work during my one-year fellowship at the Château de la Napoule in southern France, as part of being awarded the 2022-2023 Prix Henry Clews from the La Napoule Art Foundation.