By Masayuki Nagase
September 5, 2016
In this fourth year of work on the Sculpture Project, my goal is to complete the stones in the Black Hills Garden that runs along Sixth Street. This summer, I started working on the Black Hill spire. The spires are the strongest landmarks in Main Street Square being the most visible at over 30 feet high. Slowly, the artwork is emerging on the surface of the Black Hills spire, spiraling upward like the wind.
One of the significant meanings for my design concept for the Passage of Wind and Water is “Transformation, change and hope” and the desire of “All living beings to live in balance.” These themes are explored visually throughout the entire composition in the two stone gardens, the Badlands along Main Street and the Black Hills, and in the spires, which mark their intersection.
Last winter in Berkeley, I worked on the Black Hills Spire design in depth in my studio. I studied the diversity of the natural environment of the Black Hills, focusing on the flora and fauna of the region and the varied natural sources of life: water, plants, and rock formations. My challenge was to create a design that could express the theme of all beings living in balance and to focus the design to express this diversity in an abstract way. I work with abstraction to express the essence of the richness of life.
Primary through the design for the spire, my artwork emphasizes the sense of flow and movement of water and connects it to the other stones in the garden below. I spent hours drawing different images of flora and fauna of the region and mapping how the design would travel across the spire.
The structure of the spire is like a three-story tower. Each story is formed by four planes, every plane has different elements and they are connected. I set the four main design themes exploring different areas of habitat: water, grasslands, hills/mountains and air/wind.
Also integrated into the overall design are human handprints and various animal footprints. Over 150 people, youth to elders, participated in sharing their handprints at last summer’s third annual Native American arts market at Main Street Square.
While I continue to carve the remaining stones in the Square, Rapid City’s own stone fabrication company “Life Song Monument by Rausch” owned by Chuck Rausch, is sandblasting the high spire, with the aid of a powerlift. Since both spire structures are formed with thin slabs of stone veneer over a metal infrastructure, sandblasting is the primary technique to carve the reliefs.
As summer ends and it is turning to autumn, come and see the Passage of Wind and Water being created above and below. See photos on the project's Facebook page.