FACES AND FIGURES

l973-80



I would call the sculptures in this series Personal Pieces, for two very different reasons. Initially they represent a personal involvement of ideas with materials, as thoughts of design and form materialized into metal constructions. In most cases I recall exactly the stages of my thinking and involvement and have added a few notes about that time. This was the time of being involved in a very intimate and personal process.

But when the piece was finished and mentally put away, some sold and long since gone while others are still here, they became something quite different. Now they are objects, which can be seen on a personal level, as something standing on a table in a corner, on a shelf in the study, or in a window where a different light could fall on them daily. If you wanted to be archaeological about it, you could call these pieces fossils which had long since replaced living and working processes. But they are also the result and conscious end-product of my activities, I suppose the reason I did them in the first place



HEAD OF ZEUS l963

Steel, welded parts, 32 in/022

The majestic stare of the Father of Gods and Men has been watching over my household for a third of a century, his eyes unblinking, his royal castellated crown firmly set, a glint off the silver drops on eye and lips as if about to make a pronouncement, which never comes. Two feet tall, massive in compact design, with a touch of cubism around the throat, ZEUS is above all imperturbable. Another shot, below, was taken in l999 to see what a third of a century outdoors does to steel, if anything

Zeus l989

steel l999 photo /73

... for more



One Brassy Lady

Brass 14 in/010

Highly polished, all reflective in surface if not in spirit, this "portrait" contrasts the discrete articulation of the arm and leg sections, with the smooth flow of light over the "body", front and back. It is not surprising that her head is small and her face hardly shows at all, she's that kind of a lady.



Lady in the Breeze

Brass sheet 13 in/011

I don't know if that famous scene of Marilyn Monroe caught over an air-vent with her skirts a-flying was in mind when this piece evolved, but I seem to remember thinking something of the sort back then. If her head faces bravely into the gusts, her cloths trail with the wind, and the whole piece is three- dimensionally discombobulated, all in a blaze of reflective light.



El Toro

Steel figure H10 W 16 /018

I made a number of Bulls over the years, the first was 5 inches long for a retired college President, this is the second one and is replete with various broken pieces of color glass which glint in the afternoon sunlight on a window shelf. The third went suitably to the Late Prof. Jay Gould at UVM, and the fourth,right below is a different kind of beast, made some fifteen years later.

El Toro II

Steel figure H 11 W 17 in/25



Portrait of Claude Bourcier

polychrome steel 12 in/005

The late Prof. Bourcier was a man of great verve, intense dynamism and above all vibrant color of personality. In fact I was thinking of him years ago when I made this piece, especially when I decided on the color scheme. Look down (or up...), dear Professor, and see if the resemblance is true.



Little Sky Window

Steel rings 6 in/014

This little piece of a mere six inches height, has to be placed somehow above eye-height, to you can look at, and especially through, the rings at the blueness of a bright sky beyond. I sometimes think that the smaller the window, the wider the view will be.



The Little Professor

Steel sheet 8 in/008

I was sitting in a college Committee Meeting one fall afternoon facing an older professor who opposed the teaching of music and art, in favor of "the written word" as the carrier of human knowledge. Later I could not forget the tight configuration of his face, the reach of his thin arm as he held out a BOOK to us, to make his point about "knowedge". It is all there in this six inch piece of iron. The face detail of crushed iron, springs and ball bearings, does not come through. But the gesture and that book are there.


Up Tight

Steel brass solder 16 in/024

If you live around an academic community for a while, you will see a variety of up-tightnesses, but the members of a college's Administration will always have the best rogue's gallery of the type. Whether this one is a Dean, a President or a Chairman of the Board doesn't matter, since you have probably seen him too.



Random Thoughts

Steel painted rods 32 in/020

I have always felt odd about this piece, which is different from anything else I have done. There is something quiet, thoughtful and perhaps pensive about it, as it stands three feet tall in a window space, its variegation of colors derived from the color-wheel, but exploded and left to drip back into the vertical dimension, in an afternoon sunset.



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Lovers

Plate steel 10 in/13

This is a good example of what chance can do. I had been cutting pieces with a torch out of a couple of old lawnmower blades to repair the garden-machine tines, and threw the leftover pieces in a corner where they gathered dust for two years. Cleaning up one day I was throwing these chunks into the scrap barrel, when I suddenly saw that they were two figures kissing, ten seconds at the welder and a black spray and they were done, somewhat to my surprise.



Fabullus

Iron and steel 5 in/18

The Roman poet Catullus has a poem inviting a friend to dinner telling him to bring drink and food and a girlfriend, because when he smells the new perfume Catullus has just received, he will be "all nose".



Rolling over a Loan

Steel figures 16 in long/21

The Vice President of a local bank was visiting my shop on some business, when he saw this piece of two men rolling a tank, and I improvised the name "Rolling Over a Loan" to see what he would say. He said nothing but turned white and left a few minutes later.



Kneeling Figure

 Cast bronze, 4 in/23

This little piece is the work of a former student Tom Vanacore who learned carving marble in my course with Charles Wells, and now is a professional marble carver and restorer. Ciao Tom!



Ex Cathedra

Steel and stainless 5 in/26

Is is a Cardinal or a Professor wedged into a churchlike chair, about to make a cool expostulation?



Looped!

 Steel block 7 in/27



Sprinter at the Line

Steel figure 5 in/43

Figures on ancient Greek Vases were often of energetic runners, while the Romans "strode", despising the hurried gaits of slaves and Syrians. Until recently we all strode in our own particular ways, but now at the Millennium, everybody is again jogging all the time, which makes one wonder if history is not, after all, cyclical.



What the.... ()?

Steel figure 5 in/44



Clown in Deep Doubt

Steel visage 4 in/46



John the Baptist

Steel and cloth 13 in/48

This "reliquary" evokes the strangeness of John the Baptist, walking through the deserts in a camel hair serape stained with the dripping of his wild honey diet, crying out METANOIETE METANOIETE. The biblical visage is drawn, strained and ancient. It is also very strange indeed.



Man with Saw

Steel construction 27 in/72

It is not unusual for a person to saw off the basis on which he is psychologically standing, but this piece comes from a story my Dad told me years ago. Around l910 he was visiting with some country cousins who were out on a lake to cut ice in the days before refrigerators, and city boy that he was, he cut all around himself and slid into the water, to the ring of general laughter.



The Man who Stands Firm

Steel plate 12 in/012

Everyone needs some sort of support to maintain his position in life. One seeks reputation and degrees, another tokens of honor or riches. But there are some who rely most on their sexual performance, in fact that is where they mainly get their support.



Viagra Dreamer

Steel and iron 12 in/017

A third of a century back from the millennium, this sort of little piece of sculpture might have got a gasp of shock or surprise, but the things they are a-changing. What with ubiquitous porno shots, an arm of the government in the Lewinsky affaire, and now Erection Disability a hot topic for hype medical sales........ why, there is nothing left to be shocked at. Gone are the innocent days when a Harvard wit was dismissed for a campus newline: PRESIDENT LOWELL FIGHTS ERECTION IN HARVARD SQUARE, the "erection" being a mere subway stop terminal at that venerable intersection.



Hercules Rising

Figure
welded steel, 5ft/96 tall

Started in l960's, this unusual direction in rusted steel Figurative Sculpture was something I always intended to turn upside down, meaning right end up, and finish with head and arms. But I never could decide how to go about it. He stood around waiting for me to make a decision for so many years, that I got used to him as was, and decided in l999 to stand him modestly in a corner of the garden and let the poor fellow alone. A dozen friends told me this was right, and I guess I am going to live with it, even if gravity is defied in some small part. In any case you can't keep a good man down.



William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College
www.middlebury.edu/~harris