IN FLUX Cycle 10: Reflections from the Artists (Part Two)
IN FLUX, a collaborative art initiative, provides opportunities for local artists to create site-specific temporary public art installations in a wide variety of locations. This year, six cities participated, creating twelve artworks across the Valley, four of which are here in Scottsdale! Now that their art is installed, the artists had a chance to reflect on this process.
Hector Ortega is a metals artist who creates medium- and large-scale sculptures and tools for other artists. His sculpture Reliance is located at the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Oak Street. It is made from COR-TEN and stainless steels, which were carefully chosen based on his experience as an artist that manipulates metal.
“The COR-TEN steel is a very durable material and has a warm rusted oxide patina that changes over time with natural weathering,” Ortega said. “I always love after a piece has been in the elements for a while, striations and different tones tend to show up as a natural patina which gives it a unique character. The stainless steel was something I have been wanting to execute for a while, mixing the two contrasting metals.”
Reliance has a powerful presence, standing at around 12 feet tall. Ortega “wanted to create something that would take the eye away from the all the vertical poles nearby and give the site more of an architectural presence with dynamic movements. The goal was to evoke a greater sense of place through the artwork.”
The fabrication process was somewhat different than what Ortega is accustomed to, as there are unique considerations for public art that will be exposed to the outdoor elements. To ensure public safety, Ortega added internal structural reinforcements to help support the height and weight of Reliance. One obstacle faced during this process was supply chain issues. Helium, which can be used to weld metals, was in short supply. Ortega was able to find another method to weld the pieces of his sculpture together, which he said was a “great learning experience.” To future IN FLUX artists, Ortega suggests: “Give yourself a bit of extra time. This will go a long way; there will always be something to deal with that is unforeseen.”
Christopher Luper is a master of fine arts candidate at Arizona State University, pursuing sculpture and painting, specializing in foundry. His sculpture Fragmented Reflection is located at the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Roosevelt Street. Luper’s inspiration for this work started with a spiral pattern. This pattern was scanned digitally, altered, and 3D-printed at a 3-foot scale. From this 3D print, a rubber mold was made. Using this rubber mold, Luper applied a lost-wax ceramic shell casting method to create a negative hollow space, into which he could pour metal. Silicon bronze was then poured in at about 2,150 degrees Fahrenheit, and all the various pieces were welded together. The final step in making his vision a reality was to add some color.
Fragmented Reflection boasts a classic tiffany green on the organic surfaces and a high polish on the flat surfaces. The process Luper used to realize these specific colors is patina, which is a controlled oxidation of the metal surface. By using patina, one can achieve a wide variety of colors and implied textures.
In total, it took Luper about three months to complete this piece. “Each step of the process requires a different mindset to complete effectively,” Luper said. “The idea of switching modes of consciousness ‘on a dime’ and being fully present with each step along the way has fueled my research. Certain steps require a light touch and others a heavy hand; some require a close eye and others a big picture outlook. Without any of these individual steps the piece would be incomplete, unstable, or unsafe. An internal/external alchemical reaction is brought into light here, in that the pattern and self are transmuted though this process to reveal the metaphorical gold of humility, knowledge, experience, and honed skill.”
Both Reliance and Fragmented Reflection will be available to view through spring 2023. You can follow Hector Ortega on Instagram @hman4200 and Christopher Luper @csluper to see more of their art!
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