Analysis of Art: Berea Sculptures
There is a small town, Berea, Kentucky, that is nestled at the foothills of Appalachia. I go there at least once a season because of the scenic beauty and I have good friend from high school who now lives there. It is known world wide as well as nationally for the arts and crafts that it produces. Berea College is a very good liberal arts college that has drawn in a lot of artist and the town is a tourist attraction because of that. The last time that I was there, I was saw two sculptures that I really liked and I was fortunate enough to meet the artist of both. They are examples of contemporary art.
The works that I have chosen are sculptures one is a metal sculpture The Dragon, by Robert Montgomery and the other is Mano a Mano by Alfredo Escobar. Both of these pieces stood out to me as I strolled through the town. Even thought this small town in Appalachia, there is a theme to them that reaches far beyond this tiny town.
The Dragon by Robert Montgomery, a blacksmith and artist, is a hollow statue comprised of iron with more curves and circles than sharp corners. It is has a light airy appeal even though it is made of a heavy metal The curves of the body of the dragon are filled with tiny circles of iron, while the wings are sharp and angular. There is fire in the shape of a hand spewing from the open mouth of the beast and it is poised as if ready for attack.
I think the Montgomery is using the dragon to show, as it was in medieval times, deceit or an abandonment of one’s principles. The fire shooting from its mouth is a reminder that pain and scaring can be a result of losing the values that one holds. The hollowness of the sculpture is the represents the hollowness of mankind. He communicates this through the stance that he has posed the dragon. The fact that it is ready to attack shows that an individual’s morals and principles are ready to be assaulted at any moment and that strong defenses are needed for protection. We are besieged daily by things that are marked to destroy our inner self and in this sculpture they have taken on the form of a dragon.
This is a mighty piece of art. When in its presence, it makes me realize that I need to stop and think about the silent attacks that are made on me as an individual daily. It makes me feel this way because it is large and strong. It also has an ominous expression on its face as it uses the fire from its mouth as a weapon. The work is valuable monetarily. The metal that comprises the statue is worth a lot of money, while the time the sculpture put into the piece adds up to a large amount. It is also valuable for its message. I feel that it should be in a museum of contemporary art because of its monetary value and its beauty and the skill that it took to create it. I also feel that people from the 21st century can definitely learn from this sculpture. From its symbolic representation, it can inspire others to think of how they are under attack daily.
While I was viewing and photographing The Dragon, I met tourist named Aaron Ball. I questioned him about the statue and found that this man of twenty-eight felt a little different than I did. Ball felt that the sculpture has just gotten into gothic literature and created The Dragon as a response. He did not see symbolism in the statue he just felt that Montgomery was creating it for effect and to display how well he could work with metal. He also thought that Montgomery could be advertising for his metal business. Ball think that it made him feel in awe that this man had such control of metal. He is an engineer and he was impressed with Montgomery’s talent. He felt that the work should be in a museum and that 21st century can appreciate its beauty but he did not feel that there was a message there.
Mano a Mano by Alfredo Escobar is a fiberglass sculpture that has been painted. The sculpture is of an oversized hand with many smaller multi colored hands painted on the black background. There is a white picket fence and grass painted at the base or wrist of the hand. Each hand overlapping another and some are grasping other hands. The shape of the hand for the sculpture is cupped.
Escobar is trying to communicate that it takes many different hands interlocked to create unity in the world. The hands are different colors to symbolize the differences in people. There are different races, genders, ages, occupations, talents, religions, and etc. of people in the world, but it takes every one to make the world one big hand. The large hand that all of the hands are painted on is symbolic of the world. The fence and grass represent that the earth is everyone’s home. The black background of the upper portion of the hand symbolizes the vastness of the universe.
I definitely feel that the sculpture Mano a Mano is valuable because it is a beautiful representation of Escobar’s talent. If preserved, this piece could teach others for generations about unity. This could be especially valuable in the 21st century because of all of the problems between religions, political parties, and races.
The sculpture Mano a Mano definitely caught my eye. I was drawn to the colors and the shape. The curvature of the hand takes away the harshness that can also be a part of a hand. The multi colors are bright and vivid while the fence and grass at the base gives it a feeling of home. I especially enjoyed the feeling of unity. While I was in Berea, I learned that the college was created for the soul purpose of offering an affordable education to all people regardless of race, or gender. That was an unheard of concept in the south in 1853, the year that it was founded. The town sprang up around the college and with the same philosophy that everyone was important and equal. I found the sculpture particularly satisfying after I learned the information about the town. I now know that whether Escobar meant to or not, he had summed up the town where his sculpture is located.
The tourist that I spoke to while viewing the sculpture, was Cheryl Ingram. She was a retired music teacher from Ashland, North Carolina. Ingram also felt that the hands painted on the sculpture symbolized unity and that the larger hand represented the world. She felt that possibly since Escobar was Hispanic that he knew what it was like to feel unconnected in another culture than his own and that he felt the need to connect. She then said that on second thought the hand could represent the predominant hand of each individual and the talent that person has. I found that viewpoint interesting to think about even though I feel that the first one is more correct.
Ingram also felt that the sculpture gave her a feeling of unity, and that the colors were something that made others feel cheerful. She too felt that this piece should be in a museum because she felt that it should be preserved. Her opinion of what it could teach 21st century people was that we need to quit all of these negative actions about the differences of people and instead unite and embrace those differences.
Escobar, Alfredo, Mano a Mano. 2001. Berea College Square.
Montgomery, Robert. The Dragon. 1999. Berea College Square.