Coconut Embryo

2006, Bronze, 5” x 5” x 5.5”

I learned bronze casting as a student at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.  Located down in the bowels of the museum, the foundry seemed a rather dark and mysterious environment. Intimidating graduate students ran the place and the teachers could be a little rough as well.

My first bronze casting was of a three phase lightning bolt. Next were the 40” solid bronze rings for the Ascension. I never really took to wax as a medium. It was too soft. I liked things harder. Metal is already ‘soft’ enough to me so wax and clay feels like pudding. I fully comprehended  I would have plenty of time to work the bronze after it was cast; but I had also learned the hard way that the better the wax was prepared beforehand made a huge difference in the end result. Part of the reason why bronze has the ability to lend validity to an art object isn’t simply because of the color or the weight of the metal.

Going through the process of the lost wax method in bronze casting insures that the idea has been thoroughly vetted and  worthy of the cost and effort. In this case, the coconut embryo was made in three parts: two half shells and the embryo herself. Since the shells were simple forms, the waxes were cast from simple plaster molds. The embryo, a more complex shape, required a two part mold. The finished waxes were then sent to the foundry for bronze casting.  Finally the metal shells had the hinge welded in place to shut perfectly and the embryo was polished and patinated to finish.

My parents created  a series of stories where each child in the family was found somewhere in nature by my mom and dad. My sister was discovered in a flower bud. My brother floated down from the sky in a seedling parachute. I was discovered under a mushroom. Imagine that? This sculpture continues my family’s myth with Trinity’s story.   I rode my bicycle home from a sailing charter one late October day in Key West, and I saw the perfect coconut laying on the side of the beach. I scooped it up and pedaled it home, where I was going to crack it open and eat it. But when I arrived,  I heard a noise inside and discovered a baby girl. I showed her to my wife Marlesa and she immediately cried, “Aww, can we keep her?’’ I told her that we should keep her safe overnight, but in the morning, we would have to let her go. (It’s not fair to keep wild creatures and you tend to get too attached to them if you hold them any longer than that.) Needless to say, we grew attached to our coconut girl.  We felt she was an incredible blessing and decided she was a gift from God, and therefore, ours to raise. To this day Trinity never fails to impress me with her God-given talents, intelligence, and compassion.