Posts Tagged ‘turtle’

Styro-turtle head with fossils

I just read that the most primitive reptiles still around are the turtles.  The oldest turtle fossils extend back nearly 230 million years.  It wouldn’t come as a shock to see that pushed further back in time as new discoveries are made.  The fossils at the Falls of the Ohio predate the turtles and represent life during the Devonian Period about 370 million years ago.

Styro-turtle in shallow pool

Normally during this time of year the fossil beds would be exposed and you can walk very far out upon them.  This, however, hasn’t been a normal year!  I’ve dipped into the archives to show you a turtle sculpture I made a couple years ago that remains a favorite creation.  In this image, the Styro-turtle is crawling out of a shallow pool of water that it was using to stay cool.  It can get very hot out on these rocks during the summer.  The remains of ancient corals can be clearly seen in the limestone.

Styro-turtle on fossil rocks

When I make this work I’m really more interested in the images that result.  For me, it’s about seeing the trash I rearrange and reconfigure in the context where these objects were found.  This turtle needs to be seen in this particular environment which has played a large role in shaping the materials I use.  This is meant to be “a collaboration with nature”.  Andy Goldsworthy has used this phrase to describe his work and friends have  compared my work to his.  There are similarities in that we both like working out in the elements, using what is on hand, and taking a photographic image that is the visual record of that day and place in time.  There are also differences.  My work here is figurative while Goldsworthy’s is more abstract.  He prefers working strictly with natural materials while I use artificial ones too.  The state of moving from the natural to the artificial I feel describes our current condition well.  Goldsworthy travels to some of the beautiful places on the planet to make his art, while I decided to interpret this one place near where I live.  I feel we are collectively like the turtle in the above image…on the brink.  Will we turn back or go over the edge?  By using the garbage I find here I believe I’m not only illustrating part of the problem, but also suggesting an alternative.  It’s by encouraging and using our universal creativity that we have the best chance to reconnect with the environment that sustains us.

Styro-turtle, out of context

This piece turned out nicely and so I kept it.  Later it found a good home with my gallery representative…who prefers the sculptural models over the images!  To each his own.  With real turtles, one of the distinctions that shows up even in the earliest animals is the presence of the shell or carapace.  In my polystyrene version, the shell is special too.  It is the remains of an old bicycle helmet.  Other materials used include:  coal for the nostrils and mouth, plastic aerosol nozzle tips for the eyes, a plastic bleach bottle mouth forms the collar where the turtle’s neck joins the body, driftwood legs, tail, and neck, the rest is Styrofoam.  All found on site.Underside of Styro-turtle


The head pivots around where it meets the body and there is one other special feature of this piece.  It can only be seen by turning the turtle over.  The body is a Styrofoam human head used by wig stylists!  For me, it adds another layer of meaning.  This is one of two such Styrofoam heads I have found at the Falls of the years and worked well with the foam helmet.  A pocket knife was the only tool I used to make this found object sculpture.

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