"INCEPTION"/ Ring Dance #1 came back from the galvanizers this week. It still shouts a little loud with the fresh hot-dip zinc coating, but will quiet with exposure to sunshine and rain. I have been enjoying the sense of play and motion that the piece embodies.
I didn’t know in advance what the piece would look like. I made the rings, of various sizes, but then deliberately avoided any planning of how they would be arranged to form the final sculpture. I find that a piece like this has more life when I let it accrue on its own. I just started sticking the rings together, one by one.
I think of this process as being divinitory. By that I mean I let the piece form itself, while I engage in a ritual sort of play with the elements involved. I apply a loose, fluid set of guidelines as to how I will proceed. The piece is thereby “played” into existence. I discover the final form of the piece by playing with the elements rather than by developing a set design and then forcing materials into the form of the preconceived vision. I wonder what will happen; then I find out.
For guidelines, in this case, I paid attention to attaching each ring firmly to at least two others, considered how to make the piece fully three dimensional—with no front, side, or back—and tried to avoid placing any ring on the same plane with, or parallel to, any other. I didn’t even settle on what would be up or down until I came to the last few rings.
The advantage of this open-ended play is that the resulting piece arrives from a place beyond my own imagination, from a crossroads of play and purpose, a mix of the limits of material and process, one decision dependent on the results of the last. I arrive in a new territory, not quite sure how I got there. Then I look around.
RING DANCE #1 is available for purchase, and will be on display at Olympia’s spring Artswalk, April 27 and 28. I’ll be showing with the other “Fire Art” welders from South Puget Sound Community College. We will be on the southeast corner of Fourth and Washington, downtown Olympia.
[Update: INCEPTION/ Ring Dance #1 was sold in 2013]
Art and Practice
Don Freas is an artist, writer, and poet in Olympia, Washington.