There was a heavy storm that tore down an enormous cherry tree in my front yard several years ago. Upon inspecting the storm's damage, I discovered a long, intact curved branch.
I knew immediately that this piece of wood had not only an extraordinary bend to it, but that it could be used as the material for a portrayal of the Greek mythological character, Daphne.
Daphne is a familiar theme in the world of sculpture. The most famous of her portrayals is Gian Bernini's marble sculpture housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.
In my Daphne, the essential part of the expression is the movement of the branch as it seeks light in the canopy. The form is in the shape of a "vertical wedge", a term that I began to use with more and more frequency in my sculptural vocabulary as my work developed.
This piece was created in the basement of my house before my studio was built. It was shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in 1989, and at the Phillippe Staib Gallery in New York City in 1991. Eventually, the work was cast in bronze and displayed at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey in 1995. The original wood model is now permanently installed in the front lawn of my daughter's home.
Today, Daphne remains one of my favorite pieces because it was the first of many vertical wedges to come.