My career in sculpture began in 1955. It was then, while still a student, I began to exhibit my sculpture around Chicago in all sorts of places—art fairs, small galleries, local art centers, and the like. During [the] twelve years that followed, my sculptural development grew as a private, independent, studio-based, self-generated activity that responded to the stimuli I supplied and the skills I could master.
Then in 1967, I began work on Play, a commissioned sculpture which my studio could not accommodate. I started to work on sculpture for the first time outside of my studio, on a time and material basis in a metal fabrication shop, with the help of other men and machines. Play, as I look back on it, began what has been a second career for me, that of a public sculptor. The dimensions of this second career, which remains inextricably linked with the first, were not clear in that beginning, and have only become apparent to me with time and reflection on its course.
Work in the factory contrasts with work in the studio, where the sculptor’s head, hand, and hammer can shape an idea in a spontaneous generation, which is frozen in time as it is fused with the torch’s heat. Outside the studio, the sculptor’s horizons broaden to the limits of the possible; that is, to the extent the sculptor can conceive of, and master, the interactive possibilities. These possibilities are often realized through the creative interaction of the artist with patrons, or patron groups, in their conception, and with engineers, technicians, and tradesmen in their execution. Outside of the studio, the sculptor’s internal dialogue gives way to the dialogue that a sculpture sets up with the environment the sculpture is created for.
Public sculpture responds to the dynamics of a community, or of those in it, who have a use for sculpture. It is this aspect of use, of utility, that gives public sculpture its vital and lively place in the public mind.
The challenges utility brings to the sculptor’s mind and art, are as varied as the people and the sites encountered with each commission. As sculptors in our time respond creatively to the challenges that the opportunities for the greater utilization of sculpture impose, we establish links with the greatest traditions in sculpture, and with the largest and most diverse audience sculpture has ever had.