© Derrick Woodham. January 8th., 2016.


The project to design and install Twister began in the summer of 1996, with notice that The Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Gallery was receiving proposals for future exhibitions in the upper gallery. I saw the site as an extraordinary challenge, and uniquely capable of providing an indoor location for a sculptural idea I had begun to examine. The Weston Gallery accepted my proposal, and the University of Cincinnati Faculty Research Council provided funding to support the construction of the sculpture, which was installed on October 11th., 1997, and will be on exhibition until April 5th., 1998.

This is the first sculpture of mine to evolve as a design on the computer before being modeled in the real world, and the computer model of the upper level Weston Gallery, which I made for the project from construction drawings for the building, is my most involved reconstruction of a proposed site to date. Working on the computer has allowed me a variety of ways to experience the project, providing a full range of views from detailed schematics to point-of-view renderings, and allowing ad hoc modifications to be applied, assessed and reversed, at every stage in the realization of the design. Experiment with the computer model continued beyond May of 1997, when I began to fabricate the sculpture itself, a process completed during the October gallery installation.

Construction of the sculpture required individually hand bending, painting, and fitting 164 10 foot lengths of metal tubing. Each piece had to be temporarily supported until the whole structure could be secured to itās ceiling mount. The installation took our crew of 4-5 people 9 days to complete.

Twister is a site specific sculpture, an inverted cone formed by layered spirals rotating around a common center, proportioned to fit within the three storey high upper level of the Weston Art Gallery. The cone implied by the sculpture extends beyond the volume of the upper levels of the gallery to engage the adjacent enclosed spaces, and involve them in the interaction between sculpture and site.

This sculpture is my first production of a conical screen structure, a form I hope to experiment with further in the future, for the sake of its decorative, as well as its metaphoric potential. In Twister I addressed the idea as one capable of invoking the image of a tornado, a natural phoenomenum particularly significant to Cincinnati, and the rest of the central and southern United States. The history of conflict between man and nature invoked by this metaphor adds anticipation of the contest to my impressions of the interaction between the sculpture and its architectural setting.

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