Bob Dylan's New Sculptures Were Inspired by His Childhood

The American music legend picks and chooses elements of his industrial past to create a new metalwork series.

by Diana Shi
Sep 10 2016, 11:35am

Photos: John Shearer. All images courtesy the artist and MGM National Harbor

The original disrupter, Bob Dylan once reconstructed the musical zeitgeist by tuning the social and political consciousness of the 1960s to the key of pop. He found his creative big break when providing musical accompaniment to Carolyn Hester, a fellow Greenwich Village folk artist, on her third album, and from there, would go on to sign with Columbia Records. His prowess in songwriting and lyricism contributed to his status as one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, a singular voice in American history.

Though less known, Dylan has over the years revealed himself as a creative polymath. He's published numerous books featuring his observation-based illustrations, the first publication arriving in 1994, and documented his own diverse travels throughout the years. 

For the last 30 years, the artist has also created metal sculptures for his personal circle of friends and family. In 2013, Dylan revealed his metalworking creations—in the form of a series of winding and graceful metal gates—at the London Halcyon Gallery, as the exhibit Mood Swings.

Dylan’s latest public display of welding is filtered through his childhood growing up in Minnesota’s “Iron Range.” Born in Hibbing, Minnesota, he resurfaces the part of his small-town boyhood spent living near the world’s largest iron ore mine in his latest exhibition. Portal shines as a found-object installation combining scraps of industrial farming equipment, children’s toys, kitchen utensils, and antique weaponry collected from junkyards over the years.

The complete metalworking display is a commision for MGM National Harbor, located south of Washington D.C., and will eventually develop into a towering, perforated archway over the entrance of the Harbor, set to open later in 2016.

To see more of Bob Dylan’s Portal works, keep an eye on MGM National Harbor‘s website, here.


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Bob Dylan
Scrap metal
found art
metal sculpture
metal art