|North Carolina Zoological Park
"Sum of the Parts"
Entrance to North America Asheboro, NC
“Sum of the Parts” is a sculptural mass of 17 metal cubes stacked asymmetrically to a
height of four cubes. Appliqued to the facets of these blocks are symbolic images,
reminiscent of a child’s building blocks or alphabet blocks. The sculpture is arranged
into three different compositional elements.
The main structure contains 14 of the total 17 cubes, symbolizing the primary core of
healthy, sustainable plant and animal life on the earth. The images depicted include
various representations of plant and animal life, water, recycling and concepts relative
to the sustainable use of natural resources like reforestation and the passage of
knowledge from one generation to the next. The cubes in the main structure are three
feet stainless steel blocks with holographic grind patterns.
The second compositional element is a pair of precariously balanced three-foot
bronze cubes resting on their edges and just barely touching one another and the core
group of blocks. These two cubes symbolize the threatened and endangered species
of plants and animals. Images of a human and of the earth are also included as a
reminder of the impact of man’s actions or inaction on the delicate balance of nature.
The earth symbol represents the biodiversity of the entire planet, feeling the sting every
time another species is added to the threatened or endangered list.
Some 10 feet away from the main core of blocks, away from the blocks of threatened
and endangered species, rests the final component of the sculpture, the Cube of
Extinction. Partially buried on one point, this isolated, weathered four-foot mild steel
cube is totally oxidized (rusted) suggesting the decomposition and return to the earth
as well as a partially excavated site revealing only the skeletal remains of extinct
species. In addition to images of examples of natural extinction, other images depict
examples of human-abetted extinction. The Cube of Extinction is a stark reminder of
the loss we feel when a species is gone forever.
Facade of Habitat for Humanity Forsyth ReStore Winston Salem, NC
The “restore-ation” of the ReStore façade presented some intriguing challenges to me
as an artist. Interpreting the icons and embellishing the front door were separate but
linked components to an overall plan. Using as much recycled material as possible was
a goal I tried to keep in sight since such usage would mirror the core of the ReStore’s
product mix. Gleaning and scrounging for the right components was as important as the
specific design choices in formulating an effective design concept. I agonized over the
tonalities of shades of rust, spent too much time trying to track down fastening hardware
(only to revert back to the bucket of recycled concrete anchors in the ReStore, which is
how it should be) and worked through five versions of the heart icon (and could easily
have done five more).
I was surprised that one of the toughest challenges I faced concerned how to suppress
my normal inclination toward obsessive craftsmanship and hyper tweakage. I tried to
loosen my bonds a bit and let some human quirkiness peek through. Art babies always
are long labors and complicated deliveries. I wanted this one to succeed for a number of
reasons. Looking bad as an artist was low on the list. Hopefully my principal motives
were a bit more noble. We redesigned the ReStore for a purpose. Increased curb appeal
generates more customers. Increased sales generate more houses for deserving
families. I do get it – and I’m not even a rocket scientist. Being asked to participate was
an honor and the challenging work fed my soul. It even allowed me the luxury of indulging
one of my aesthetic idiosyncrasies: “Give Rust a Chance.” Susie and I value our
relationship with all the generous and passionate supporters of Habitat for Humanity and
look forward to furthering its mission together. Vivá la hammer!
Give Habitat a Helping Hand!
Dempsy has 3 inch and 5 inch hands with or without center hole available for purchase
in a variety of metals, thicknesses and finishes. Hand door pulls or push plates are
also available. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of hands will be donated to
Habitat for Humanity. Contact Dempsy for more information.
Dempsy R. Calhoun
p u b l i c s c u l p t u r e
|North Carolina Zoological Park
North America Entrance
|Habitat for Humanity Forsyth