The Rapidian

Sculpture a culmination of years of experience for Artprize artist Brent Harris

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/Brent Harris

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Some things are a long time in the making. For Kalamazoo based artist Brent Harris, bringing his bronze sculpture piece "Gatherer" to life is a process that began approximately a decade ago. The sculpture is showing at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the largest of the seven exhibition centers for Artprize. The piece was originally conceived by Harris 10 years ago as part of a series of sculptures inspired by the practice of Tai Chi.           

"The human figure is a universal shorthand which allows my sculpture to have a direct visceral connection with my viewer," Harris wrote in a statement available on his Website.

However, much like the open space between the figure's hands in the sculpture, Harris wanted to leave the significance of the piece open to interpretation from the audience and not get too "literal."

"I wanted to open the piece up for the viewer to put whatever is in their imaginations into it," he said. The resulting sculpture is a culmination of the many techniques and ideas Harris has honed over the years.

Harris originally sculpted the statue in wax and later cast it in bronze using the Lost Wax Casting Method. He did all the metalwork himself.  

"I enjoy working in all aspects of the process" he said. The juxtaposition between the waxwork and the metalwork offers plenty of opportunities for what Harris describes as "happy accidents;" a random drip of wax or the flow of metal in its liquid form are unpredictable and beneficial element that keep the work interpretive and open to its own inherent patterns. The title of the piece, "Gatherer," came to Harris after the sculpture was completed.

Harris is thrilled with the location of the statue. When he entered Artprize he had hoped for an outdoor venue to show the piece. After getting matched up with the Public Museum, Harris said he was "flattered" by the opportunity to show his art in such a "beautiful location right along the river and downtown."

The sculpture is the biggest piece of his own that Harris has ever worked on. Artprize is what gave Harris "the incentive to set a goal and hustle to get it done." There is growing buzz and excitement for the second annual Artprize event that Harris is keenly aware of and feels privileged and grateful to be a part of the 2010 event.

Harris is the co-owner of the Alchemist Sculpture Studio located in Kalamazoo. The studio, which casts bronzes for artists, is inspired by 'alchemy,' the practice of magically transforming base metals into gold. The alchemists were rumored to have been trained in mystic arts. The studio has cast statues for famous venues including the statues of the legendary Detroit Red Wing players of the "Production Line"—Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Alex Delvecchio—located at Joe Louis Arena as well as Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks outside of storied Wrigley Field, and several Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals

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