Forms of atrophy: The fragments of separate realities

Plan Author

  • Sterling Trail, 2017

Fields of Concentration

  • Sculpture
  • Visual Arts

Sample Courses

Project Description

An exhibit of drawings and sculpture in metal and ceramics.

Faculty Sponsors

  • Tim Segar

Outside Evaluator

  • Joseph Smith, Mouth Holyoke College


This Plan is a study of metal and ceramic sculpture, with a focus on surface and architectural sculpture. It includes an analysis of sculptures by Lee Bontecou and Theodore Roszak, sculptures that reference a reality that is not fully our own, that are fragments of much larger worlds with biological differences and similarities. It also includes an exhibit of drawings and sculptures, titled “Remnant,” many of which are created from abandoned parts and machines found in the forest near campus.


Above we have discussed the different themes found in Roszak’s work, accretion and erosion, and the biomorphic. We now will be looking at how they contribute to a greater theme of different realities. After a second heart attack in 1969, which rendered him physically incapable of the physical demands of working with metal, Roszak resumes lithography.The lithographs that Roszak created near the end of his life were often politically driven, However, many of many of his lithographs remained unpolitical and create a complex composition that gather the different aspects of Roszak’s reality into a cohesive composition.

Bontecou uses figural and mechanical imagery in her work. Bontecou’s Vacuum-formed plastic sculptures do not seem to depict natural life, instead, these sculptures seem to depict a synthetic and constructed life. The plastic fish sculptures are joined together rather than being held together by bones or flesh. The wall-mounted sculptures of the 1960s, are mechanical in construction with teeth, metal bars, old fabrics, leather, and wire, that allude to a hunger or biological needs of strange machines or beings that block the voids of another world.

When I spoke before of walking a path through trees to another world, I was speaking of my process for gathering materials that I discovered in my sophomore year here at Marlboro College. Down in the woods at the intersection of old roads there is a trash pile that students used during Marlboro’s early years as a college. It has long since been abandoned, but the parts of machines and structures are submerged under accretions and deposits made annually by the silent sentinels of the forest. It is here where I find the old triumphs of mankind. The identities of an old world, deco and nouveau motifs, machines, and other objects made of steel. I incorporate these materials with new raw materials to create objects that allude to the past, and to the beauty of creation and destruction. These are the objects of a past world, the objects I create with them are remnants.