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Sculpture Occupies the Same Space as Our Bodies

michael binkley sculptor in stone

# 53 in Kit White’s 101 Things to Learn in Art School – though seemingly obvious, this is an aspect of art that many miss.

Sculpture’s physical presence is different from that of a two-dimensional object like a painting or drawing. Because it occupies space like we do, it confronts and challenges us because it does not rely on spatial illusion as does two-dimensional art. We are compelled to walk around it, to touch it. We can experience sculpture with more of our senses – sight and touch are most common, but some sculpture introduces sound and scent and even taste.

Some of the larger sculptures that I have carved have elements to them that will emit a ringing sound when one raps one’s knuckles on them, like the legs of “Awakening.” Some sculptures I finish with bee’s wax, giving the sculpture a pleasant scent. I had a commission to carve a portrait bust from a large block of chocolate which would have given the recipient a strong desire to taste the sculpture!

It is exciting for me when I introduce someone new to my work in the gallery and encourage them to touch my sculptures. Almost everyone is surprised that they can touch, and then marvel when their hands experience the many different textures that I use for my work.

You really only look at a painting from one vantage point and enter into it in your imagination. Sculpture, however never has to justify its reality, it simply is. Physical presence is a form of power.

(pictured above, “Cha Cha”, 2004, private collection, Bangkok)

Comments: 1

  • July 30, 2013

    Absolutely true and I wish more people would treat sculpture as art too when purchasing, because ‘it occupies space like we do’. It’s an awareness that something else is in the room.

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