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Robert Wiens, Sugar Maple, 2001
Carved Wood 26 x 31 x 82 Inches
Presented by the Artist and Paul Petro Contemporary Art (Booth C2)
The predecessor to Sugar Maple, 2001, was Log, from 1992, which was part of a group of untitled sculptures which grappled with the very notion of what sculpture was. Ten years earlier I had been making small memorials, which delved into social injustices, acts of racism, and personal violation. The work then shifted to questioning the nature of memorialization itself and the purpose of public art in general with the introduction of sculptural fragments often found in heaps and disarray. I had become interested in the manner in which sculpture is often used to serve an ideological purpose, and then also how this purpose could be subverted. Many of these works consisted of over-sized statuary fragments critiquing militarist and authoritarian sentiments.
These works sat low to the ground and were of human scale. Sugar Maple, 2001, as well as its predecessor seemed to point in a new direction, as a kind of film prop-like object, but self-referencing at the same time. As a subject, the idea of a log seemed almost banal, but it had a rich potential as a flowing organic life form.
Sugar Maple from 2001 drew heavily on the original log sculpture but was a departure in two significant ways. It remained unpainted, and it was modeled after a standing, living tree, using photographs from 8 compass points as a reference.
Sugar Maple is deeply connected to my earliest work as a sculptor, having led to new possibilities in many works on paper that have dealt with arboreal subjects and a commitment to environmentalism.