Atlas, the Titan god, was known for his immense strength and the task of holding up the heavens. Similarly, Atlas the moon is known for its large size and gravity that affects the surrounding rings of Saturn.
The sculpture, weighing almost 600 pounds, is crafted from Spanish alabaster, a historical sculptural and decorative material. Illuminated with light, it reveals intricate veins resembling interstellar matter.
Its monolithic sci-fi inspired form contrasts with the classic sculpture material, creating a layered relationship to viewers as both grounding and otherworldly.
The intricate veins and multilayered patterns in alabaster stone resemble the swirls of stars and cosmic dust from space photographs I saw as a child. My father would bring home stacks of photos to share with me, which I dutifully Scotch-taped to the walls and ceiling of my bedroom.
The stone and those photos both captivate my imagination with their delicate and intricate curves, twists, and folds that create intricate visual patterns. To me, the parallels blur the boundaries between the natural and cosmic worlds, highlighting the beauty and complexity of the universe we inhabit.
The distinctive veining patterns in alabaster are the result of mineral impurities and the presence of other minerals in the surrounding rock. As the gypsum crystalizes, these impurities become trapped within the crystal structure and create the veins that we see.
Common impurities that can contribute to the veining patterns include iron oxide, clay minerals, and calcium carbonate. They can range in color from soft pastel tones to deep, rich hues.
Leaving the top of the sculpture to reveal the raw exterior of the alabaster boulder grounds the viewer to the natural origins of the material.
This block of alabaster is estimated to be around 150 million years old, formed during the Jurassic period when the Iberian Peninsula was covered by a shallow sea. Over time, the remains of marine life mixed with gypsum sediment eventually solidified into this stone.
In my process, understanding these origins brings a deep humility and respect for the material. This stone has a long history before our existence and hopefully its re-formed presentation will continue long after my own.