Art: Raw to Refined!

by Nancy Lovendahl

Last December, I received that happiest of rare calls from Colorado Creative announcing that I had won the Art In Public Places (AIPP) award for the new renovation of Quigley Hall on The Western State Colorado University (WSCU).

My idea had connected their performing arts and visual arts departments, merging the concept of musical harmonics in the visual form of unison, octives and intervals.  Natural geometry of these musical elements forms a most beautiful symbol… Like a leaf pattern, or fish, or what many males have recounted to me… Male sperm!  Everyone is right because all of the same geometric proportions connected to these forms, yes- sperm does have geometric form- are the same.image

I plan to cut this symbol out of raw blocks of  limestone and refine them standing in an environmental space.  This environment has sculptural seating, spontaneous performing spaces and visual art spaces in front of the newly renovated arts department building.

I started by buying stone…. LOTS of stone! 81,000 lbs of it actually.


You are looking at raw blocks for 3 individual pieces, which equal 6 parts for the sculpture:  3 symbols to be cut out of 3 frames.

I make templates out of my symbol in varying sizes for each of these raw boulders, which are then cut out using a gigantic wire saw.  Swanson Stone in Sedalia, CO is my ticket to ride for this part:image

Once the placement is established, the cutting begins.  Like a cookie cutter, this symbol is cut out of the center of each rock.  We are cutting one of the largest ones in the project, a 9 foot long x 5 ft wide X 3+ foot deep beauty from Kansas.


I’m fooling with you eye.  This rock is really on its side.  You are viewing the way it will be installed in the sculpture, soaring 9 feet into the air with the open space available for climbing through, looking through or sitting inside.

imageHere is the symbol, again fooling with your eye.  It is shown how it will be installed standing upward vertically 7 feet high.  The carved lines on the form are the intervals and octave lines set against the long smooth curve of the unison line.

What is beginning to take form for me, is the contrast between the rawness of the block, cut out revealing what has been taken away from it to be refined on its own.  These contrasts represent ourselves. We begin something new, presenting ourselves in unrefined form.  After the journey of the learning or experience, what has shifted out of us becomes something new and dazzling.

imageI’m working outside turning the symbol into the round, sensuous form with textures each of the 5 of them will become and then touching up the frame  inside cut-outs for them to be completed.  I’m finishing the second side of the first symbol and the first frame in the background is complete.  8 more to go!

I am under contract to deliver and install this environment in August, so there is much to do and discover in the making process.  Stay tuned!