Saturday, December 12, 2009

In the flesh.....

We use live models for all of our work in the studio. Even when the subject is a posthumous one, we will still bring in a model of a similar height and build. Steven maintains that it’s as much an effort toward efficiency as an attempt to ensure accuracy. He says it’s just easier to see something right in front of you and he'd rather work from a three deminsional reference.

For the most part our larger monument work features great achievers from the past. While our research frequently puts us in touch with decedents or colleagues of the subjects, it’s very rare that we meet directly with an individual of whom we are creating a huge heroic sculpture.
That changed when John David Crow visited the studio to consult on the monument we are making for Texas A&M University. It’s a powerful moment when an individual that you’ve been studying as a legend for months and months suddenly appears and the whole studio was honored at his presence.

Faced with a soaring representation of his younger self, Crow was at first humble and quiet. He even seemed slightly resistant to this grand scale celebration of his achievement, but eventually our enthusiasm for the project became contagious.

As Steven began to explain his thoughts for the piece, the design decisions he was considering and the overall impact he envisioned, Crow offered suggestions and comments. He stepped away from the overwhelming weight of the honor and began to talk with simple passion about football and his time with A&M. He shared stories about the way he played, his stance and his technique. While he talked, Steven shifted the pose of the sculpture, changing the angle of the torso and moving the arms and legs.

In one hour the shape of the sculpture was transformed and the whole project suddenly became much more real. A shift had taken place and we were no longer making a sculpture of a man from old videos and archival photos. Now the project is properly individualized, showcasing John David in every nuance. It’s this process that defines Steven’s work - the transference and communication of these details and his ability to do so still seems magical to me.

As Crow and his wife and college sweetheart were getting ready to go, Mrs. Crow turned to Steven and said, “it looks just like him.”

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