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Aluminum Sculptures Sprout Up Around U.S.

March 23, 2011

From Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., artists and architects choose aluminum

ARLINGTON, Va., Sculptures constructed from aluminum continue to pop up around the United States. In fact, just this month artist Michael Kalish’s sculpture of Muhammad Ali went on display in Los Angeles’ Nokia Plaza.

Kalish used 1,300 punching bags, 6.5 miles of stainless steel cable, and 2,500 pounds or two miles of aluminum tubing to construct the 22-foot-high installation. The project took three years to complete. Viewing the sculpture from many angles, it appears a massive, boxing-inspired rainstorm—but when viewers find the right position, it unexpectedly becomes a 2-D vision of Muhammad Ali’s face. Dwayne Oyler of Oyler Wu Collaborative, the design and building architecture firm that worked with Michael Kalish, lists several reasons for choosing aluminum.

“Its aesthetic qualities, its weather resistance, its weight (or lack thereof) and its workability. Our office has done a series of projects that used aluminum as its primary material, all of which straddle the line between art and architecture and we are always pleased with the results. This project with Michael Kalish is the culmination of that work."

Kentucky artist Tony Viscardi found metal to be ‘fascinating’ and became amazed that such an industrial form could be transformed into a work of art.  He now only specializes in aluminum contemporary artwork and sculptures.

“I chose aluminum because I love the textures I can create with my die grinder on aluminum,” said Viscardi. “I like its contemporary feel and design. I also love aluminum compared to some artists’ choice of stainless steel because of the weight difference.”

In the Aluminum Association’s own backyard, the Washington Monument represents not only our country, but our industry. The 100-ounce tip of the monument is made of aluminum. This piece was put in place on December 6, 1884, the largest single piece of aluminum cast at the time.
Head south and a series of semiabstract sculptures, referred to as ‘Singing River Sculptures,’ are planned in cities along the Tennessee River in the area known as the ‘Shoals region.’ These cities include Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia. The art will honor the Shoals’ world-renowned musical heritage along with the backbone of the area’s economy for decades, the aluminum manufacturing industry.

Recycled aluminum donated by Wise Alloys’ Muscle Shoals plant will be used for these sculptures. Sizes for the sculptures will range between 18 and 20 feet tall. Two small-scale models and several drawings illustrating likely designs have been created by artist Audwin McGee and are on display at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

“Aluminum is unique as a sculpting medium in that the weight of a sculpture is forgiving when you begin to reach larger-than-life-size figures,” said McGee. “Personally, I think it is one of the most beautiful metals when used as a construction method of sculpture. The metal patina seems drab to some but, used in a way that hosts lots of shadows and voids in semiabstract form, it becomes much more interesting to me than a Patinaed Bronze.”
For more information on Oyler Wu Collaborative visit www.oylerwu.com
For more information on Tony Viscardi visit www.viscardidesigns.com.
For more information on the Singing River Sculptures visit their facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Singing-River-Sculptures/139816106070583.

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The Aluminum Association, based in Arlington, Virginia, works globally to aggressively promote aluminum as the most sustainable and recyclable automotive, packaging and construction material in today’s market. The Association represents U.S. and foreign-based primary producers of aluminum, aluminum recyclers and producers of fabricated products, as well as industry suppliers. Member companies operate more than 200 plants in the United States, with many conducting business worldwide.

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