Creation in a Nutshell

The Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum near Solesbury displays a large collection of iron sculptures in an unsuspecting, hilly, southern Indiana landscape.

I will post pictures from the trails at a later point. Today I would like to talk about an annual event that takes place there.

Each July, artists from all over the worlds gather to a month long event at SculptureTrails to work on iron casts. Over several weeks they produce moulds for their sculptures which are then subjected to a ritual that lasts several hours: The iron pour. And indeed a ritual it is. It begins with the firing of the furnace.

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All participants wear protective gear and perform their tasks with a concentration, discipline and respect that reminds me of ancienct religious ceremonies. A look at the molten iron alone is awe inspiring.

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The actual pouring takes place in several rounds, depending on the number of moulds.

Visitors have the opportunity to scratch sandstone molds for a nominal fee.

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More often than not, the sparks fly high, and let the human beings involved disappear.

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When the liquid iron is poured, the flames and sparks take on fantastical shapes that are, one might believe, the ghosts or souls of the sculptures to be created.

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It is hard to say what makes this whole process so fascinating. Is it the ability to handle molten iron? The solemnity of the ritual? The spectacle of the flames?

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Maybe it is the deep satisfaction to see something truly transformed.

In Andrei Tarkowski’s film Andrei Rublev, the last chapter shows the casting of a bell (two bells, if you wish). There and here, the spiritual dimension of a purely physical phenomenon is astounding.

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