How an Artist Brought a Central Park Boulder to Brooklyn
Artist Kurt Steger traced and hung a Central Park boulder from the celling of a Brooklyn gallery.
Kurt Steger, Scribing the Void, 2016. All images courtesy of ODETTA
Earlier this month, a chunk of Central Park was transposed into the confines of a spacious Brooklyn gallery. Scribing the Void, NYC-based artist Kurt Steger ongoing solo exhibition at ODETTA, consists of a singular piece; a large, wooden sculpture created from the tracings of a Central Park boulder. Suspended from the ceiling, the 27-foot long sculpture is open and hollow; a representation of only a section of the traced rock, but its exposed nature allows the viewer to literally be one with the piece, both experientially and spatially.
“I chose a boulder in Central Park because of the significance of the park as well as a nod to our deep human longing as city dwellers to stay connected to the natural,” Steger tells The Creators Project. “This boulder was the very first one I came to and I immediately saw it as perfect. I question whether I chose the rock or the rock chose me.”
The process of tracing an enormous boulder and placing it inside of a gallery is not as simple or as intuitive as your standard, everyday tracing. Steger began the process by placing strings along the section of the boulder he intended to reproduce for his piece. Then, using a series of 10" x 16" sheets of chipboard and a scribe compass, the artist traced segments of the boulder, afterwards cutting the lines and placing the cut pieces back on the stone. After repeating the process 72 times and tying all the pieces together, Steger had successfully mimicked the boulder’s shape.
Returning to the gallery with the traced rock, Steger transferred the shape of the pieces to as series of wooden panels, assembled and connected on-site. Pristine but unpainted, the sculpture is a wooden rendition of a stone, the peculiar result of a human using nature to recreate nature, hung to the ceiling and accompanied by the sounds of composer RSM.
The openness of the sculpture in comparison to its source object serves a central purpose to Steger’s project: “The hollow of the sculpture refers to the sense of loss and the fact that something is missing. The scribed line is the only connection now between the boulder in the park and the sculpture in the gallery,” the artist explains. “The title Scribing the Void speaks to the idea that there is a fine and detailed line that connects what exists to what is missing. The void as I see it is the loss of the human connection to nature. Symbolically, the void speaks of loss of community, spirituality, purpose, initiation, ancestry, and out internal selves.”