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On the blog: Final preparations for journey to Rapid City

June 17, 2013
by Anna Huntington, community arts coordinator for The Sculpture Project

Masayuki Nagase and his wife, Michele Ku, have been working nonstop making final preparations for his journey to Rapid City to begin Passage of Wind and Water.  The sculptor will leave his home in Berkeley tomorrow, Tuesday, June 18 and arrive in Rapid City this week.

Earlier this month, the artist spent a day driving all over the Bay Area tracking down the best dust collector to use at Main Street Square – compact, efficient, quiet. Another day he was researching the giant, SUV-sized prehistoric turtles, archelon, that once inhabited the Badlands. And always it's making many, many connections with people in the Black Hills, Badlands, and Bay Area who are knowledgeable and passionate about the Rapid City region's history and culture.

In March, Nagase traveled to his homeland, Japan, where he purchased special granite carving tools not available in the U.S. The traditional, hand-forged tools are similar to those the artist learned to work with as a young apprentice in the granite quarries of Japan. (See videos of the forge.)

Nagase worked this spring to revise his design for Passage of Wind and Water. If you look closely at the photos of the carved models, you'll find he incorporated avian and other elements as a result of the community design workshops in the Black Hills over the winter. He extended his design across the upper planes of the granite blocks, integrating the interior and exterior forms.

Nagase plans further paleontological research and design refinement when he arrives and before he begins carving early in July.

The artist will open the Passage at the eastern end of the Badlands Garden, the series of stones along Main Street. He recently made full-size templates for the five stones he plans to complete this summer.

He had to invent a process to do this. He created the templates by projecting images of his carved models onto sheets of ultra-thin plywood the size of the granite pieces in the Square and tracing the enlarged images. He'll use these templates to transfer the design directly to the granite before carving.

Nagase said he was happy when he saw the design full-size for the first time. "It gave me confidence about the proportions," he said.

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