Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sweetgum Ball Sculpture Proposal

Last month I submitted a proposal to the town of Silverton to build a 10-foot diameter steel Sweetgum ball.  Although I did not get the commission, I thought I would post my sketches and the description from the proposal below.

"Silverton has a strong history of celebrating the health and vitality of the community’s tree canopy. Considering its history of urban forestry and its designation as a “Tree City,” I wanted to propose a sculpture that would remind viewers of that connection. I am therefore proposing to build a 10 ft. diameter Sweetgum ball that would be made of steel. The entire body of the piece would be made of sheet metal welded together. A supporting “soccer-ball” frame would be built to house each of the “arms.” The three-dimensional “arms” of the sculpture would be created using slats of sheet metal, similar to my other metal sculptures (see images here). Steel is a perfect material for this sculpture as it will turn brown as it rusts to mimic the brown color of a real Sweetgum ball."

"The Sweetgum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) 'is one of the main valuable forest trees in the southeastern United States, and is a popular ornamental tree in temperate climates' (Wikipedia). Cincinnati is at the top of its native range and it is well-known by its star-shaped leaves and hard, spiky fruits. The seeds are eaten by finches, sparrows, doves, and wild turkeys. Small mammals such as chipmunks, red squirrels and gray squirrels also enjoy the fruits and seeds ( Humans have also enjoyed sweetgums for centuries, chewing the sap as gum and also enjoying a wide variety of medicinal benefits. And although the Sweetgum balls can be a hazard when mowing the lawn or walking barefoot, the seedpod itself is quite stunning."

"Below is a rendering of how the Silverton Sweetgum ball would sit on location."

Yesterday a new friend told me that you either succeed or you learn.  It took me a minute to let that sink in, but once it did I loved the idea. A part of me was sad I didn't get the commission because I think the world would be a better place with a giant steel Sweetgum ball.  But I learned there is a joy and a power in having an idea and communicating that vision to the world.  And just working on this watercolor sketch made me weirdly happy.  I usually like to end with a quote, but there were too many good ones about this subject.  So I will leave you with three of my favorites:   

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success?
It's quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure.
You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success.
But it isn't at all.
You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it,
so go ahead and make mistakes.
Make all you can.
Because remember that's where you will find success."

-- Thomas J. Watson

"Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing,
you will be successful."

-- Albert Schweitzer

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear."

-- Jack Canfield


Silverton said...

Girl what a lovely design, it is their loss that you didn't get the commission!
Love, Dad

Nessy said...

Thanks Dad!

Magi said...

Beautiful and thought-provoking to elevate the tiny to the larger-than-life. I'm glad you shared your proposal with the world.

Nessy said...

Thanks Magi!

Patrice said...

I think your proposal should have won! Thanks for this post....I learned things I never knew about Silverton and thought your plan would have been great! I laugh now about my feelings regarding sweetgums. Girlscouts and craft days of my youth saw creative potential in these
little buggers. As a former runner I dreaded encounters with them on sidewalks. Thanks for sharing your creative are the winner!

Nessy said...

Thanks Patrice! It does bring back memories of Girl Scouts and glue sticks.