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Joseph Wheelwright: Stone Heads and Tree Figures

June 7, 2003 - May 16, 2004


In the seventh exhibition for DeCordova's outdoor Sculpture Terrace, Joseph Wheelwright has created a magical installation of ten monumental stone heads and three giant tree figures. The artist has long worked with objects found in nature on a large and small scale, carving stones and carving and embellishing parts of trees to imbue them with the life force of sentient beings. Wheelwright takes his direction from the found materials, letting the configuration of a root ball or the markings on a stone inspire his creative process.

The large stone heads on the Sculpture Terrace -- many of them carved specifically for this exhibition -- demonstrate the range of styles that Wheelwright works in: from more realistic faces with recognizable features, to those that are more abstract or alien in appearance. The Wheelwright stone head in the DeCordova Museum's Permanent Collection, Listening Stone, has been relocated from the Sculpture Park to the Sculpture Terrace, allowing visitors to see it in a new context. (right: Listening Stone, 1995, granite, 40" x 60 x 44 inches, Photo credit: Michael Weymouth)

Indoors, in the Sculpture Terrace Gallery, an embracing tree couple and smaller stone heads will be exhibited, as well as 22 small moon sculptures in bronze, one made each year since 1980. The moon has been an enduring subject in Wheelwright's work, and his intention is to complete 28 bronze moons for the series. In addition, several photographs of other large stone heads that are located in public and private collections will be exhibited.

Joseph Wheelwright lives and works in both Boston and Vermont, where he maintains a foundry for bronze casting. He is on the faculty of the DeCordova Museum School, and is a founding member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery. Accompanying Joseph Wheelwright: Stone Heads and Tree Figures is a catalogue with an essay by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Director of Curatorial Affairs and organizer of the exhibition. The catalogue has been funded, in part, by B.J. and Steve Andrus.

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