So, if Barton Barriers has many meanings, including all those the artist never envisioned, but expected us to formulate, I am taking the liberty of looking at the sculpture and drawing some conclusions of my own. Many thoughts trail through my mind when I look at Barton Barriers, but I am most surprised by what the sculpture reveals about scale. These are big water-filled construction barriers and they are bright orange and white- hard to miss. If each block were three inches long instead of six feet long, we would perceive them as toys. Because the sculpture is so large compared with the surrounding trees, it becomes something of an affront to nature, just like all our construction projects are when they are in progress. Is this part of the message? Or, is the message that these child’s toys are offensive only when they become large? If so, what is the tipping point between unoffensive plaything and monstrous construction object? Does it depend on the size of the viewer?
I have not known a person who could sit at a table with small objects spread out in front of her without picking up and re-arranging the objects in some way. “Look, Mommy, it’s a boat.” “I wonder how high I can stack these before they fall over?” “If I had more of these red ones instead of all these green ones, I could make the Smith Building.”
Here is an intriguing example of the human penchant for arranging and re-arranging things, sometimes endlessly:
I think that this same love of arranging small objects (or large objects) is at the root of mosaic-making. Very few people can resist such a sight:
Pile of Tesserae
Below is a photo of my mural “Jesus, Lord of All” in progress two years ago, piles of tesserae lying around, waiting to be used.
Making my large mosaic “Jesus, Lord of All”
I see the impulse to take plastic construction blocks and strap them together into a sculpture as being similar to the impulse to take pieces of tile and arrange them into something new. It is an inescapable human impulse to order the world around us and try to make sense of it.