Wetlands is a bronze sculpture of an Ibis merged with a floodgate created for the Eccles Wildlife Education Center at Farmington Bay in Utah and funded by a special dispensation from the Utah Department Of Wildlife through the Utah Public Art Program.
Wetlands references ancient Egyptian Ibis sculptures of the god Thoth. These archaic Egyptian sculptures merged magnificent bronze heads, necks, and legs with bodies formed of wood or stone. The Ibis of Wetlands has a finely sculpted head and legs cast in bronze, with the body formed of an industrial floodgate.
The floodgate body emphasizes the crucial role of maintaining local wetlands for the millions of water foul that rely on the threatened watershed of the Great Salt Lake, and the conservation ethic of Farmington Bay: only through active freshwater management of manually operating 200 freshwater floodgates is the man-made Bay viable as avian habitat. Even though the Ibis were considered an aspect of the god Thoth, the Ibis went extinct on the Nile Delta in the 19th Century due to industrial scale human habitat destruction of wetlands and saline mudflats.
The Utah Great Salt Lake basin provides habitat for about 55,500 White Faced Ibis, more than half of the 100,000 Ibis in all of North America. Ibis are just one species of many, numbering millions of birds, that rely on this critical habitat along the Great Western Flyway of migration from South America to the Arctic.
Wetlands honors Department of Wildlife Resources’ efforts to conserve the finite water resources to the Jordan River’s delta into Farmington Bay, standing as a signifier of human impacts and our local responsibility to actively engage in conservation.
In Western history the iconic avian species of brackish wetlands is the Ibis-headed god Thoth. Thoth is The One god / the oldest Egyptian creator god / the only Egyptian self-created god; essential to maintaining the universe (credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them); the wisest of the gods- master of laws governing physical with moral/divine and the conveyance of these laws to mankind via writing/knowledge and is the scribe of the underworld (bill is like a pen); god of the moon (crescent moon is the curve of the Ibis’ beak).
Additional to images of Thoth in Hieroglyphics, sculptures, and sarcophagi, - millions of Ibis were captured/farmed for mummification and interred in ritual burial with people or in sacred sites.
Even though the Ibis were held in great regard, the Ibis went extinct on the Nile Delta in the 19th Century due to industrial scale human habitat destruction of Wetlands and Saline Mudflats.
Wetlands speaks in a Post-Modern language to reference the Egyptian cast bronze Ibis from 600 BCE, utilizing the Contemporary Art modus of Appropriation of the floodgate in tandem with the traditional Egyptian form.
The legs are coming along. I like the approach taken by the Egyptian masters, but I have moved far from their stylization on the head. They have sat as a question mark for a few months while I finished out the latest round of Cutthroat Trout. Now the unprecedented June and July weeks on weeks of 100 to 107 degree heat are crushing me back into the studio to resolve the legs.
With the original clay sculptures finished out, the next step is creating a brush-on silicon impression-mold backed by a hard shell of plaster as the mother-mold. Once accomplished I deliver the mold to the foundry and wait while they slurry wax into the molds. The thin wax forms are removed from the molds for inspection- the legs pulled clean enough to go on to the wax room for ceramic shell prep, but I take the head home for a few tweaks and return it the next day.