Inspiration – Richard Serra

Just got back from a trip to Dallas/Fort Worth to visit the Diebenkorn Ocean Park retrospective at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. It was stunning, and I’ll be writing my reflections on the show soon. But before we even got inside, we experienced one of the best Richard Serra sculpture I’ve ever seen. Below are some shots from my visit – I’m with one of my best students and friends, Marcus Miers.

Marcus at the base.

A shot of the cor-ten behemoth against the sky.

A spire of light wedging into the interior of the piece.

Gazing upward from within.

And here I am against the space and light.

Serra’s piece at MMA in Fort Worth is spectacularly aural in its manifestation. There is the quintessential feeling of massive heaviness, the sense of the density of the steel, the way the work shapes the space and the sky and the light within its parameters – but the sense of sound is truly unique. In most of Serra’s semi-enclosed works there is a kind of stillness to the air and the sound, a weightiness similar to the feeling of walking through a forest heavy with new-fallen snow. In this piece, however, the sound is fast and expansive, and every slight movement or sound is magnified and compressed within the interior space. What happens inside is heightened for those within, but people outside have their sense of the interior sound scape dampened. This inside and outside duality of sound is integral to the piece and makes the normally ominous quality of Serra’s steel more whimsical and lightly-felt.

A Sound of Being

“Evening often brings contemplation. The paths are quiet and fires smolder in the distance. I’m out behind the Inn again. Some people come and go, moving in the ethereal between-time, but we sit on the steps with a kind, unimposing light glinting out from within. There, the warmth of the air touches my arm as I bring my hand up for another pull on my smoke.

See how poetic that stream of consumption is as it gracefully spreads upward, as smoothly as my eye follows it, as light as my mind. Shared… a cigarette-trust between friends.

And there is just silence, but that is not to say there is no sound. There is a sound that true silence makes, a sound of being. What a precious joy now to sit and feel that silence, having grown accustomed to all the oft-unheard sounds of life embodied in it: there two girls talk quietly down by the lagoon, here the underbrush rustles with some rooting creature. Around us the sounds of the night move in close, the trees and hills settling in. Above, in the near cabins, assignations await. The studio glows, and there’s music trailing through the trees… notice the diffusion. The Inn lights lilt like ghosts greeting that twilight time, that time when the entire world is mother-of-pearl.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

Image from a digital photo taken between May and August 2001.