Monument Valley, Utah
       
     
Yucca blossom and seed pod section
       
     
Spanish Dagger yucca seedlings
       
     
Limestone in a tent
       
     
Small space to carve
       
     
Taking a break
       
     
Volcanic Basalt
       
     
Stone Shards
       
     
Smooth Seeds
       
     
       
     
Pod resting on flower
       
     
Last Day
       
     
Nomads
       
     
       
     
Monument Valley, Utah
       
     
Monument Valley, Utah

On my trip to visit my parents in Arizona, I gathered a few seed pods from a Spanish Dagger yucca plant as I wandered around Monument Valley.  This trip incited my urge to experiment with the seeds and discover how they can affect my creative vision.

Yucca blossom and seed pod section
       
     
Yucca blossom and seed pod section

My intuition recognized contrast between life and death; this catalyzed a symbolic theme of my project.  I imagined a form with the joining of a yucca flower and dried seed pod.

Spanish Dagger yucca seedlings
       
     
Spanish Dagger yucca seedlings

First, I wanted to succeed at nursing the seedlings, which are known to take several months to germinate.  My plan is to carve a stone vessel for the seedlings to mature in.

Limestone in a tent
       
     
Limestone in a tent

My intent is to experience the "old school" struggle of carving a 260 pound block of stone in a hot tent without power tools.  I thought of the tent as the nomad's wikiup.  It reminded me of how comfortable my lifestyle is through an industrial age.  This tent also keep most of the stone debris inside for easier clean-up.

Small space to carve
       
     
Small space to carve

Stone with the start of roughing-out the form.

Taking a break
       
     
Taking a break

It is awkward and very uncomfortable working inside the tent, but I wanted this experience to challenge my threshold.  Taking a break is very much a part of solving the design problem as much as a brief physical recovery.

Notice the form of a hollow pod.  The seedlings will be transplanted into the carving, separated by basalt spacers that are the artist version of the black seeds.

Volcanic Basalt
       
     
Volcanic Basalt

I confess that basalt is one of the densest stones in the world, and that I had to use my industrial power tools to form the seeds.

Stone Shards
       
     
Stone Shards

With the cutting wheel, the seeds are beginning to take form.  The seventh one is wet to show how dark the stone will appear, once polished.

Smooth Seeds
       
     
Smooth Seeds

The basalt seeds are polished and ready for installation with transplanted yucca seedlings.  One of the yucca's shown in this image is thriving.

       
     
Outward

I wanted to show the viewer some of the contours and carving marks within the work.  

Pod resting on flower
       
     
Pod resting on flower

I bring the stone out of the tent at this point.  

Last Day
       
     
Last Day

I really like this chair, so I wanted to photograph my stone under the sun's rays.  The carving is almost finished, but will be presented for exhibition with the yucca seedlings inside.  

The exhibition is Autumn 2017 at El Museo Latino in Omaha, Nebraska.

Nomads
       
     
Nomads

The final work, Nomads that contain yucca seedlings, are separated by the basalt pieces. Finishing the sculpture by transplanting the young plants into the vessel brought me a profound feeling of bliss.

Copyright © 2019 Travis Apel

       
     
"Nomads" sculpture documentary