SOURCE: James Leacock
I received this commission from the college in 1990 and began drawing up my plan. I have always been fascinated by mapping and landscape and how the landscape determines so much of how political and economic boundaries are set. As a child, around 10 yrs. old, I would look across the St. Clair River from my spot along the river in Marysville were I pulled in fishing boats for quarters and think of Canada as a huge freighter plowing along carrying people, cars, and trees an entire world separate from me. Somewhat irritated by my imaginings, my father drove over the blue water bridge to prove that it was the same world. From the height of the bridge I could see the relationship between the land and the water separating the two countries. I’ve never seen the world in the same way again.
In the years that followed I traveled throughout the world, completed my BFA (77) and MFA (81) degrees at Eastern and the University of Michigan, where I began to explore relationships through art. I love to stare at the earth in awe from every flight I’ve ever take. My curiosity was sparked by a very simple experience. With the support of this commission I was able to explore my memories, relationships and philosophy about geopolitics and put it into form at a scale I had never done before.
Using earth to describe the earth, to marry the big view and the small view to chance.
I determined the parameters and angles based on the physical space of the installation then built wooden forms and poured the forms with casting slip, while still wet, I shot glaze onto the surface with a sandblasting gun, then with a funnel and an overhead crane I was able to float above the shapes and trail slip lines that would subtly connect the forms like arteries. I knew as the materials dried that they would crack in patterns suggesting lake beds (chance). When dry, my assistant Brent Jurrgens and I numbered all of the pieces and mapped the relationships of the parts. I then placed them into my gas kiln. The flames of licked the pieces creating the color variations as I manipulated the atmosphere of the kiln between oxidation and reduction (more chance). I welded the aluminum frame work and covered it with acrylic sheets which had been sanded to make them translucent and the back of the acrylic was painted with translucent automobile paint (ford tractor blue) to allow the light reflected off the back wall to quietly illuminate the cracks between the pieces. The ceramic elements where reassembled on the acrylic and glued in place with construction adhesive.
I would like to thank the college for the opportunity to do this commission, Earl Robinette for allowing me the early freedom to explore ceramics at SC4, after I returned from Greece in 1973, and Pat Burk then head of the art department for bestowing an honorary associate’s degree from SC4 at the dedication ceremony in 1991.
The small details of circumstance are so important to determining who we are, what we see and remember.
James Leacock is the founder and owner of Multiform Studios LLC of Brighton Michigan, collaborates designs and installs museum exhibits throughout the USA. Current and recent projects include the Gerald Ford Presidential museum, Grand Rapids. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Austin TX. The Discovery Park of America, Union City TN. The Harley Davidson Museum, Milwaukee WI. The National Museum of Jewish American History, Philadelphia PA. Cranbrook Museum of Natural History, Bloomfield Hills MI. And still makes art in his studio in Brighton MI.
http://multiformstudios.com/index.html & https://www.linkedin.com/in/leacockj