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The Elephants Walk

   by Rachel Niesman for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)

Inspiration Piece: The Elephants.

Inspiration Artist: Salvador Dali

I began by creating the backdrop. I took the shredded newsprint and brought it to pulp using a blender and water. I poured the mixture evenly over a window screen and let air dry for several days. Once dry, I ironed to remove as much texture as possible. I then created a loose "gesso" using about equal parts water, white acrylic paint, and liquid glue. Once dry, I painted my version of the sky and Dali's signature. (Images 2 and 3)

2. The base of the sculpture was created using (5) 3" strips of cardboard from the box the materials arrived in. I bound them together by drilling holes at both ends, inserting steel wire, and wrapping it around the pieces. I then predrilled eight holes into the base to bring the legs of the elephants through, giving structure to the surrealistic animals. I used chavant clay to cover the base, hiding the structural wire, building up the landscaping, and adding further strength to the legs. (Image 4)

3. Elephants and obelisks! I scupleted the two elephants and the two floating obelisks out of chavant modeling clay. Freezing to create details and drilling holes into the base of them so they could be lifted onto steel wire. (Image 5)

4. Detail time! I created the two small walking figures using sculpey polymer clay. Oven dried, and painted.

I created the roof of the house using melted friendly plastic pellets. Painted.

I used the plastic wrap the came with the canvas board to create the front pane of the house. I painted the six black dashes that create a pattern on the home onto the square swatch of plastic. I used liquid glue to hold the plastic onto the roof of the house. I cut 2 small pieces of steel wire to create the walls of the house. I held it into place on the back of the roof with chavant. I later stood the house onto the base by drilling holes and inserting the wire.

I painted the elephants and obelisks, including the wire legs. I made the obelisks "float" over the elephants backs by painting steel wire to match the backdrop, and connecting the elephants and obelisks together.

I wanted to create the "grass" hanging off of the trunks and bellies and trunks of the elephants. I shredded the strands of the rope apart and painted them dark. Once dried I used liquid glue to glue the grass to the elephants.

(Image 6)

5. I painted the base and landscaping. Once dried, I began compiling the sculpture together. I placed the figures by using chavant to hold them into place. Added the house. Touched up paint. (Image 7)

6. To add structure to the background, I used 4 pieces of oak plywood glued onto the back. I also lifted the background to match my lifted base. (Image 8)

7. The final sculpture is held in place using hardwood blocks. One under the base to lift it. One behind the backdrop to keep the backdrop placed into the base. (Image 1 - Final Piece)

8. Final piece. The Elephants Walk (Image 1 and 9)

9. Dali, Salvador. The Elephants. 1948. Oil on Canvas. Private Collection (Image 10)

As soon as I saw the theme for this year I knew I wanted to do something from surrealism. To take something so illogical and surprising in a painting and bring it into an illogical and surprising surrealistic sculpture had a difficulty level that appealed to me. I began to review some of my favorite surrealist works while I was waiting for the materials to arrive. Once I saw what was in the box, I decided to re-invent Salvador Dali's "The Elephants". I was most inspired by the steel wire, and the challenge of lifting a heavy elephant upon long, spindly legs and floating in air two obelisks. I decided to also lift the entire piece, adding a balance challenge to heighten the surrealistic vision of the sculpture. I left the background edges raw as they were formed during the papermaking process to depict the raw feeling that the original piece portrays.

As soon as I saw the theme for this year I knew I wanted to do something from surrealism. To take something so illogical and surprising in a painting and bring it into an illogical and surprising surrealistic sculpture had a difficulty level that appealed to me. I began to review some of my favorite surrealist works while I was waiting for the materials to arrive. Once I saw what was in the box, I decided to re-invent Salvador Dali's "The Elephants". I was most inspired by the steel wire, and the challenge of lifting a heavy elephant upon long, spindly legs and floating in air two obelisks. I decided to also lift the entire piece, adding a balance challenge to heighten the surrealistic vision of the sculpture. I left the background edges raw as they were formed during the papermaking process to depict the raw feeling that the original piece portrays.

 


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