Monday, November 15, 2010

Iron Pour with Shawnee Mission High School

This Iron Clad Collaboration began when Rosie Riorden appeared one morning in the sculpture foundry at the Kansas City Art Institute along with 11 other high school teachers. What followed was a high energy, fast paced workshop that consumed everyone in the studio. The #90 crucible had to struggle to keep up with the students who volunteered to cast the sand molds around the clay and carved objects the teachers were making. From the start, students like, Lea Griggs, were able to demonstrate the casting methods they had been learning in the sculpture department and demonstrate them in a safe and extraordinarily efficient manner. When the smoke had literally clears, every side, top and bottom of each sand mold held an individual work. Teachers poured metal, many for the first time, students ran the furnaces and I enjoyed every trilling minute of it.

After a couple of months, I received a call from Rosie inviting me down to the Shawnee Mission West High School and I immediately invited one of my directed study student, Torre Lewis. Rosie introduced us to her students and showcased the new Patrons Gallery the high school. It was at this time that I recognized the potential for making this show into something much more complex and difficult and Torre was certainly up for the challenge. With the assistance of Timothy Skornia, Shane Jezowski, Lea Griggs and several other students, the students began volunteering to work directly with Rosie's students every Friday morning at 7:15 am over the course of the fall term. I was glad to hear that they organized an iron casting field trip on Friday October 2nd and began brainstorming ideas. In the end, they all managed to carry out their vision in a clear and determined fashion while mentoring Rosie's students.

KCAI sculpture students provided the Shawnee Mission students with images and examples of pre-existing molds and soon they were in full production. The field trip to KCAI was organized and an iron casting workshop and demonstration was coordinated with a trip to the Nelson and the Kemper. I will let you judge form the exhibition as to how excited and satisfied the high school students were in regards to there first cast iron collaboration. In turn, the KCAI students followed up with the patina, cutting and writing workshops associated when the project and interviews were compiled on paper and video. All that remained was for us to do was install the entire exhibition which included framing and hanging all of the work, publicizing the event and shipping a 500 pound furnace, that melted all of the iron, into the exhibition space.

At this point in time, I can honestly say that this has been the most rewarding exhibition I have taken part in. The opening reception was fantastic, people came together, Torre gave a slide presentation, and the video documentation revealed the essence of the "Iron Clad Collaboration". If you missed the opening, I highly recommend that you attend the Shawnee Mission West Gallery Gala on the 3rd of December.

It is my hope that Rosie and I will be able to extend this invitation to future students at both KCAI and Shawnee Mission West and let new students step into the professional, teaching/mentorship role that so many students benefitted from taking part in during the fall term of 2009.

Part Two:

During the Fall of 2010, Rosie organize a field trip of 40+ students to Wickerson Studios and participated in an all day iron pour that took place during Michael Wickerson's sabbatical from KCAI. Experienced artists: Ashley Anders, John Northington, Shane Jezowski, Stephanie Sterling and newcomer, Max Adolf Nerman, helped to organize and make the day a fantastic experience for all involved.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Small Furnace in Berlin

Michael Wickerson has just returned from and extensive trip to Holland and Berlin in an effort to better situate his family into the Euopean Union. Relationships continue with and and new relationships are being formed with, and . During a short stay in Berlin Michael managed to fabricate a small aluminum furnace for a collective of artists in hopes of returning and casting some new works in the summer of 2011.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Earth Casting with Oscar

Celebrating four beautiful seasons at Wickerson Studios, Oscar has witnesses five iron pours and helped his father complete two new and successful earth casts on the property. Although his participation has been kept to a minimum, he has inspired his father to experiment with different ways to create forms that listen and speak to the earth.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hamlet's Mill

I have completely lost myself in this landscape sculpture. Hamlet's Mill harkens back to Jung's Tower, a lighthouse in Baltimore, a revolutionary water house in Toulouse, a midwest kiva, an Iranian ice factory, and a traditional coke kiln. Rammed from earth, clay, straw and water; this structure rises from the mud and sets aloft stabilized bricks that intend to arch underneath a herring bone roof. Form follows function, as the space defines itself and sets my body and heart to work. Keeping pace with the rains and the sunshine dictates what chores must be completed today. I am only as good as I am when I am laboring over this form.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"O" is for Oscar, "S" is for Schmidt

Wickersonstudios has been the happy home to visiting artist and teacher, Araan Schmidt, for the last week of May 2010. During that time Schmidt has worked on; completing his 4500# sand mold, fabricating a #420 ladle for casting aluminum, and casting a 120# letter "O" for our son, Oscar, directly into the earth, not to mention casting his own life-size 400# aluminum form.

Michael Wickerson and Jim Whitworth aided Araan Schmidt in 90 degree weather, and I doubt wickersonstudios will see a harder working and more determined individual for the remaining summer months of 2010. Beth Allison documented the entire event and baby Oscar witnessed his fourth iron pour by the age of eight months.

Wickersonstudios now stands in the wake of Michael's one year sabbatical and has the ability to work iron, stone, timber, and raw earth in a facility that can boast having a 60 x 60 sculpture pad, a bridge crane, hoist, a-frame, cupola, ladles, stone tables, a cement and mortar mixer, a horizontal band-saw, drill press, 4000# of coke (coal), a wealth of timber and lumber, and a field of four leaf clovers. In addition, wickersonstudios is fully equipped with a full range of machining, woodworking, landscaping and special sculpture tools.

Please feel free to contact us, should you be interested in proposing a site specific work and/or would just like to shoot around some creative ideas with a herd of deer or a rafter of turkeys.

Friday, April 9, 2010

From Adobe to Adobe will be seasonally exhibiting a selection of artists and scheduling four public cast iron pours per year. From Adobe to Abobe; the physical building of brick and mortar construction to virtual graphic design applications of Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator and InDesign; artist, Michael Wickerson, and designer, Beth Allison Wickerson, would like to celebrate and share their understanding and appreciation of these art and design forms with the national and international professional and creative community.

Please let us know if you would like to be invited to our Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter openings and iron performances.

Michael, Beth and Oscar Wickerson

Cupola, Cupola

Cupola, Cupola is a complex mixed media sculpture intended to display an alchemic vehicle that fuses together the concepts of both a ship and a bell tower. Inspired by the Klokkenstoelen of Northern Holland, this cupola capped tower and iron casting cupola come together in order to facilitate their own entropic existence. Imagine this smoking leviathan, meandering along, as the bells chime and the wagon lurches, all the while, casting 2500 degree liquid iron into functional wheels and bells.

Cast from boilers placed below the Kansas City Art Institutes administration building in 1904, this artwork memorializes, records and honors the matriarchs of the Wickerson, Polley, Grieve and Evans families in 200 pound iron and nickel cast bells set up to 18 feet in the air. Bellows assist in igniting the charges of iron and coke fuel while the machine struggles to work endlessly into the night.

The ship gathers the flotsam and jetsam of miscast and dead sculptures in its hull and recycles the heavy metals back into
functional equipment. Although "all that is solid melts into air" and "this equipment belongs to the earth", this Sisyphean wagon trudges along, breaks down and rebuilds itself, as it bellows and rings out with all of its might. - Wickerson 2010

"Whether in Cambrian or in other earth
Conceived; or yet in Protozoic slime
And ooze in the abysmal depths of time,
Dawn has concealed thine elemental birth;
Or whether yet, on-creeping man in dearth
Of tool offensive, welcomed thee sublime,
Perverting all thy virtues but to crime
While unmatured lay thy finer worth.
It matters naught-save only this-that now-
Man's better nature to thy baser yields;
His heart is steeled with temper of thine own;
His soul is hardened with thy touch, and thou
Dost send him blindly forth to reap these fields-
'Blood, sweat and tears'-thine iron hand has sown."-G.H. Case, "To Iron Ore", in M.F. Harrington, ed., Poems of Newfoundland, p. 5

"Nor do I doubt that whoever considers this art well will fail to recognize a certain brutishness in it, for the founder is always like a chimney sweep, covered with charcoal and distasteful sooty smoke, his clothing dusty and half burned by the fire, his hands and face all plastered with soft muddy earth. To this is added the fact that for this work a violent and continuous straining of all a man's strength is required which brings great harm to his body and holds many definite dangers in his life. In addition, this art holds the mind of the artificer in suspense and fear regarding its outcome and keeps his spirit disturbed and continually anxious. For this reason they are called fanatics and are despised as fools. but, with all of this, it is a profitable and skillful art and in a large part delightful." Biringguccio, "Pirotechnia