Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Church / No Church Decision for Sculpture

For my sculptures I chose the subject theme of Old North Dayton buildings that are important to the community. I opened up the theme to include current buildings or historic buildings that no longer exist.

After my research, and with the guidance of wonderful Old North Dayton experts, I learned that the North Dayton community churches are a very important, integrated part of the vibrant Old North Dayton community. But there will be no churches in my six sculptural panels.

St. Adalbert Polish Catholic Church by Wdzinc
I saw images of several churches and they were aesthetically wonderful subjects for my sculptures. I could easily imagine their design as sculptures. Yet I chose not to depict any churches for several reasons.

Number: There are more churches than there are panels planned for my sculptures. I couldn't depict all the churches and still depict other North Dayton buildings. There simply wasn't enough room without fundamentally changing what I was designing for the commission.

Picking: Could I include only one church? Which one? How could I pick one church and not depict another one? I couldn't be partial, I couldn't be inclusive, and I wasn't going to show favoritism of one church building over another for any reason - even aesthetics.

Even if there was enough space, and if I could change the rendering layout to include them all, there were the issues of detail, perspective and size.

Detail: In the sculptural panels I'm going to take broad liberties with the images of the buildings. I'm going to greatly simplify their images to represent the buildings not to depict them. There will be a great loss of detail - on purpose - to create the style effect I'm imagining. Would someone take offense at my over-simplifying their ornate church?

Perspective: I'm going to choose perspectives of the buildings that work best for the use of space in the panel and may, like Charles Sheeler, take liberties with the reality of how the buildings actually look. Would the perspectives I'm choosing for layout aesthetics not show off the features the congregation loves about their building?

Size: Since all the panels are the same size I'm going to be adjusting the size of the buildings to fit the panels rather than depicting them in their real sizes relative to each other. Big and small buildings will likely take up the same amount of space on the sculptural panels.

Position: If I could work through all of this I still have to pick an order and positions in the fence around the reading terrace. How could I negotiate the position of one panel vs. another? What if there is a spot that is perceived as the "best" spot; which church gets that spot?

I want my sculptures to be part of the community. I want them to bring people together and inspire pride for Old North Dayton. I don't want to do something that would create friction or accidentally offend any one group.

I'd love to do sculptures of the churches because I think they would make great subjects, but these will have to be future sculptures OF the churches FOR the churches and not part of the art work for Electra C. Doren Library. No churches for the sculptures at Electra C. Doren.


  1. Could you access an image of N. Dayton's very first church? That could suggest a foundation for all others that follow. Just my two cents. I am not religious, but church architecture is very important historically.

  2. Good idea. I'm sure I can get that information. The library has a great local historian and I've been connected to passionate mavens in Old North Dayton who know a lot about the history of the neighborhood.