Searching for sculpture in an environment without trees

Desert Curtain, shown at the "Construction in Process V: Co-Existence," symposium, Negev, Israel, 1995. Burlap and glue, 7' x 9'6".

In 1995, I was invited to participate in a working symposium in the arid Negev Desert region of Israel. Upon my arrival to Mitzpe Ramon, I was swept away by the natural beauty of the location: the layers of mist in the desert sky above the horizon, the broken horizontals of the sand layers below the bluffs.  It was these layers that inspired me to make my Desert Curtain, a memory print of what I had found there. It was the same process that I used in my Mold as a Piece of Art series in 1982, where I used rubber molds to make imprints of tree trunks.

The Israel project was a challenge as there was no rubber mold material available at the desert site. With a bit of experimentation I settled on using glue and burlap, which made a very transparent and brittle curtain, but which nonetheless held the verticals and horizontals I needed of my chosen sandy cliff. 

Upon finishing Desert Curtain, a local resident admired it, and I decided to give it to her. She said she would hang the work in the classroom where she taught so that the children would realize what an extraordinary environment they lived in.

My Desert Curtain experience made me understand that any created form of the past makes  vocabulary for possible subsequent work. Forms such as Mold as a Piece of Art from 1982 can serve as a storehouse for future art projects. Relating the artist’s past works, approaches, and techniques for current works strengthens the overall artistic statement.

My sculpture Desert Curtain reveals the rich colors and striations that are hidden in this aerial photograph of the Negev Desert. I discovered the geological overhang, where the colors were present, and couldn't help but to make a print of them.

An example from my 1982 series, The Mold as a Piece of Art.