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On the blog: Exploring our granite connections

June 10 2013
by Tom Thorson, Black Hills artist

If you have ever lain on a slope of kinnikinnik corridored by domes of old granite, you have probably also felt the parental reassurance of that granite's mineral presence.

Granite is rock, fundamentally composed of quartz, feldspar and mica with unique additions wherever it has formed with inclusions varying from lapidolite, to tourmaline, to gold.

Granite of different characteristics is found all over the world and it is believed that the granite of the Black Hills is the oldest in North America, uplifted in the volcanic activity of the planet's youth. Its ancient age is evident by the beautiful worn slender domed shapes the granite has taken and to which we attribute the friendly, accessible spirit of this place that continues to draw people from all over the world.

Historic rock sculpture in South America varies remarkably from that of Europe in that stone itself was considered a god and not a raw material to be rendered to look like something else. When you look at the stonework of Machu Pichu, Peru, for example, you never think anything else first. You see the stone and its properties, but in an esthetic statement of man.

You might say we have a genetic connection to granite.

In the wild, granite is clothed in a tapestry of lichens, mosses, ferns, small forbs, and sometimes trees. In the wild we rarely see the naked stone, hear its voice clearly.

In sculpture, that voice is clarified.

The restored heart of Rapid City, known as Main Street Square, was insightfully designed to include arrangements of granite that line the outside of the public space on the two sides facing the streets.  Without even recognizing it, maybe, people began right away to relate to that granite.

The gifted sculptor by the name of Masayuki Nagase will soon begin to carve on that granite. The body of work already produced by Masayuki Nagase reveals his vision identifying with that ancient voice of the rock, revealing the rock's voice in a variety of forms. His plan now for us is to keep that ancient voice of the stone while also lending to it images of the two distinct geologic formations that characterize the geographic identity of Rapid City — the Black Hills and the Badlands. He will distill to an essence images collected from our favorite experiences of this geology and geography. When merged with the granite formations of Main Street Square, we will still have the voice of the stone married with this essence of our experiences. Like a perfume, the presence of this essence will connect us culturally as we celebrate in all the activities that draw us together in this public space.

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