Apollo and Daphne

When I first completed Daphne in 1989, I wasn’t aware that I would soon create a second rendition of the famous Greek nymph. In my new work, Apollo and Daphne, the figure of Apollo was added.

The creation of this work allowed me to further continue my exploration of using different types of wood for sculpture, in this case, box elder. I chose this wood because of its unique surface aberrations, clusters of twigs, and its many surprises, like the discovery of a huge ants nest in the depth of the trunk, the cross-grained growth resulting in a quirky splitting of the wood, and its hovering uneven trunk. These surprises give the sculpture a unique life.

The spirit of the theme in Apollo and Daphne, Daphne’s narrow escape from a predatory Apollo, is caught in the upward twisting movement of the two sections of the trunk. Unlike Bernini’s work, the story in my Apollo and Daphne is conveyed totally in the abstract manner.

The tool marks are fresh, last minute cuts following the pattern of the grain, or in some areas, nonchalantly go off-course. No polishing or careful smoothing was used. Sections of the outer edges of the tree are maintained in the composition to keep the feel of the original tree trunk. Here the imperfection of nature triumphs as the work plays out the collaboration between the artist and the material.

The sculpture rests in the permanent collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. 

Apollo and Daphne, 1994. Box elder, dimensions variable, Apollo (left): 108 x 42 x 36 inches, Daphne (right): 114 x 42 x 36 inches. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Apollo and Daphne, 1994. Box elder, dimensions variable, Apollo (left): 108 x 42 x 36 inches, Daphne (right): 114 x 42 x 36 inches. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The above image of a box elder reveals the quirky pattern of chipping.

The above image of a box elder reveals the quirky pattern of chipping.