The Emergence of “Whelm”

From left - Jackson Suhre, Arny Nadler, and Stephanie Schlaifer

From left – Jackson Suhre, Arny Nadler, and Stephanie Schlaifer

Originally posted on July 20, 2012.

Sculptor Arny Nadler and assistants Stephanie Schlaifer and Jackson Suhre have braved the 100+ degree heat for the last nine days to install Whelm, a sculpture made of 11,000 feet of steel rebar (2,000 ft 1/2″ thick, 9,000 ft 3/8″ thick) that twists and sprawls on the front lawn of Gallery 210. Whelm is proving to be an anomaly in itself. Rather than providing the rigid, gridlocked and vertical forms of many buildings around us, the rebar in this sculpture offers flowing, unpredictable horizontal curves. The unconventional application of this material ultimately transforms our perceptions of its traditional purpose.

Arny’s Process: First, Arny produced a wire model of the sculpture that was to be installed.  He visited the plot of land to observe the topographic qualities, then decided on a ridge of a small slope for the location of the sculpture. Because of the very high temperatures and recent drought in the St. Louis region, a hammer drill was needed to penetrate the hard ground surface and create holes which would hold the rebar in place. In an accumulative process, Arny, Stephanie and Jackson bent the 20 foot long rebar into a series of arcs that intersect and build off each other. As the rebar was positioned, cable ties were used to hold the lines together. The last few days were spent welding the overlapping rebar. Even after the structure is installed, Whelm will evolve with the changing seasons. The steel will rust when exposed to rain, altering the overall colors of the piece. In addition, Autumn will offer an analogous backdrop for these ochre tones. Finally in Winter, the rebar will emerge from the starkly contrasting blankets of snow.

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