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