Phil Thorne

Fourth Confluence, 2020
Aluminum, Steel, Concrete
5 ft x 7 ft x 3 ft

Fourth Confluence is one of a series of sculptures titled “#-Confluences” that use the same shapes-but at different scales-in a variety of configurations.

Artist Statement

I have worked for over fifty years as a biologist and chemist, observing Nature’s way of filling voids and creating curves from essentially flat layers of cells that are pushed into complex shapes by differential growth in tissues, e.g. flower petals, a cat’s ears, an embryo.  Obviously, there is always death and decay in Nature, but the processes of birth and growth inspire my work.  I hope my pieces are not only evocative-as all artists desire- but also provocative, by incorporating forms that are somewhat sexual and with suggestions of concealment and/or disruption. 

My large, outdoor pieces use a similar vocabulary of forms under tension.  I choose to fabricate using mechanical fasteners- rather than welding- in order to reinforce the knowledge that aluminum plate is a human artifact, which I would rather not conceal with flawless, polished joints that appear organic. I also use hard bends judiciously so that the intrinsic tensile strength of the alloy would return the shapes to flat plates if the fasteners were removed. I believe that the viewer is subconsciously aware of this tension; and that this adds a dynamic sensation to the static form of the piece. Another obvious cue from Nature are the curved, fanned-out shapes achievable by overlapping narrow strips. Some of my pieces are gently kinetic. They bend and wave slightly in light winds but rotate away from a strong gust. I am guided by the natural motions of leaves and trees, rather than by the reciprocal/rotary motions of machinery.