Commissioned through the Washington State Arts Commission for the Vancouver, WA campus of Washington State University. Wailing Bell was conceived as a mourning piece for species which have become extinct. Quotations on stewardship are carved on either side, one by Gary Snyder and one by Linda Hogan. The calligraphy was carved into the clay by Jeanne McMenemy before the piece was cast in bronze. The piece is sited on a wooded path through the campus, and the bell, which has a deep mournful tone, may be rung by passersby.
The campus was relatively new at the time of this installation. The art selection committee allowed me to choose the site for Wailing Bell. I felt that the wooded path, which connects separate areas of the campus, though not visible from the buildings or main campus areas, would be the perfect placement for the piece. The path is regularly used by students, faculty and campus visitors, and the University placed a bench nearby, so the Bell may be viewed in a sylvan, contemplative setting, suited to its message of environmental stewardship. I wasn't aware of the path when I designed the piece, but the campus is beautifully situated in the forested Salmon Creek area, with mountain views, and I originally intended to site the Bell in the center of campus at a busy area of crossing paths. But after walking the entire campus, I realized that the more secluded forest path was the most appropriate location.
My collaborators on this piece were my wife, calligrapher Jeanne McMenemy, and the Walla Walla Foundry. The Foundry cast the bronze parts (the bell, the ropes, the supporting branch) for the bell, the corner braces for the top of the structure, the bottom cap on the yew wood bell clapper, and the footing surrounds for the locust wood uprights). They also allowed me to use one of their studio areas for the assembly and construction of the piece, as, at 17' tall, it wouldn't fit in my studio. They donated the use of their forklift and I was also able to hire one of the Foundry workers to help me with some aspects of the construction. Jeanne McMenemy researched texts for the calligraphy, in addition to carving the letters in the clay. Writers Gary Snyder and Linda Hogan each kindly gave permission for the use of their words.
The entire quotations, from Snyder's "Practice of the Wild" and Hogan's "Dwellings" won't fit into 100 words, but are critical to a full understanding of the piece. From Snyder: "The ending of the lines of so many creatures with whom we have traveled this far is an occasion for profound sorrw and grief. Death can be accepted and to some degree transformed, but the loss of lineages..is not something to accept." From Hogan: "Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time, and perhaps that stewardship is finally our place in the web of life."
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CODA: Collaboration of Design + Art
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[ manifesto ]
Art matters. Attention to the details of our environment leads to love of place, which brings us to take responsibility for the spaces where we live and work. And by extension, the people with whom we live and work. And by extension, to our local communities, our cities, our nations, and our world.
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In the process, design professionals promote imagination and creativity, and through their commissions, make original art integral to and accessible in people's lives.
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