Shifting shapes

Hillsborough to unveil yearlong sculpture tour
Apr. 23, 2013 @ 04:22 PM

Artist Susan Moffatt writes on her website that her work “is an attempt to capture those lyrical moments when you happen upon some exquisitely beautiful form, usually in nature.” At the Town Annex Monday, Moffatt was supervising as Rashad Mateen, Alec Lombard and Matthew Sharpstene of A Few Good Men Moving and Storage helped install one of her new sculptures.

They first dug a space in the lawn for the granite base for the marble sculpture, titled “Force of Nature: Figurative.” The granite came from a quarry in Carrboro, and except for a space she carved as a platform for the marble, the granite looks as it did when it was taken from the quarry, offering a rough contrast to the smooth piece of marble, Moffatt said.

When the base was made level, Moffatt and her crew placed the carved marble on a pin atop the granite. “Force of Nature” now sits on the lawn in front of the Town Annex at 137 N. Churton St. It is one of six sculptures by six North Carolina artists that will be on view at different locations for a year as part of the second Hillsborough Sculpture Tour. The tour officially begins Friday. A sign discusses each sculpture, and throughout the year residents can vote on their favorite work -- online, with smart phones, or through a brochure the Hillsborough Arts Council has printed.

Moffatt’s sculpture was inspired by a pepper she found that was “curvy and sensuous.” Edward Weston’s black and white photographs of peppers also were an inspiration, she said. Like Weston’s photos, Moffatt’s piece implies the human form. “I like to link together different forms of life, how we’re all interconnected,” she said.

Moffatt, of Chapel Hill, is a retired industrial designer who since her retirement has studied marble carving in Carrara, Italy, and Marble, Colo. The marble in “Force of Nature” came from Marble, Colo., where Moffatt visits each year to attend a sculpture symposium.

Her love of sculpture, she said, grows out of her industrial design experience, which also is a three-dimensional art. “The stone itself is so beautiful, once you learn how to work with it,” Moffatt said.

She uses both electronic tools and hand tools in her work. A lot of hand carving went into “Force of Nature” to create the subtle curves, she said. Looking at this sculpture is like looking at a constantly changing shape. Each vantage point gives a different shape or curve – whether one sees it as a pepper or the human form. The sun also creates shadows from the carving, accentuating those changing shapes.

The Hillsborough Arts Council is organizing the tour. For the next year, the council will be organizing tours for the public and with local schools, said Nancy Espersen, a member of the sculpture tour committee.

Chapel Hill artist Patrick Dougherty, who makes large sculptures from sticks and saplings, chose the six pieces for this year’s tour.

All six artists are scheduled to have their sculptures in place for Friday’s opening. Earlier this week, Saluda artist Dale McEntire had installed “Windows of Time,” a steel and cast glass sculpture at Burwell School Historic Site. The sculpture allows light to pass through four glass pieces, which represent (according to his artist’s statement) the cycles of birth, life on Earth, death and the afterlife.

Here is a list of other sculptures, their artists, and their locations:

-- “Gathering,” Michael Waller (Hillsborough), painted woven steel, Visitor Center, 150 E. King St.

-- “Home Sweet Home,” Rudy Rudisill (Gastonia), galvanized steel, Old Orange County Courthouse, at Churton Street between East King Street and East Margaret Lane.

-- “Ark,” Charles Pilkey (Mint Hill), welded steel, Eagle Lodge Masonic Hall, 142 W. King St.

-- “Intrusion,” Harry McDaniel (Asheville), steel, aluminum and paint, Turnip Patch Park, 333 W. King St.