"Glimpses of the Promised Land"

A Sculpture for Chavis Park in Raleigh, NC

Mike Roig, Sculptor



Beams and Pivots

    Another good rain day, and an opportunity to write. Making art is a process of thinking in tangible materials, forming stray images that pass through the mind into solid substance. Writing is the opposite, you take the factual experiences of your life and translate them into abstract symbols that allow you to give another person an idea of how you experience the world, or would like to experience the world, or might hope to influence the world so our collective experience is enhanced.

    As an artist I am priveleged to wake most days and look forward to my approaching work as an adventure of discovery. That joy in the serendipity of creation creates a difficulty in taking on public commissions. The need to bottle up enough of that creative journey in advance to allow those offering the commission a strong sense of the finished product runs counter to my natural approach to the work. Add to that the fact that the process for finalizing decisions on a commission can be long, it can take an extraordinary act of will to keep the ideas fresh, and the spirit high when the time comes to finally dive in to a project. I do my best to envision a project that will hold up to those constrictions, and try to structure the proposal in such a way that there will be room for a full creative engagement in the making of the sculpture.

    So far I think I have succeeded well with "Glimpses of the Promised Land." The pictures you see at left document the whittling away of the last of four I-beams I brought home from the scrap yard last summer in anticipation of this sculpture. I now believe it was a good exercise in extended thinking about the forms, and the methods I might use to make these forms a reality to have that delay in the process. Many a day I ran my hand along their surface and worked them in my mind - where to make cuts, how to utilize the existing holes patterns in practical and decorative ways, what would be the best way to make them transform from rigid geometry to organic flow.

    All that anticipation can excite the worry demons as well, and nothing puts them to rest like real work. Real work creates its own solutions to problems. The bench took shape in the studio yesterday with heat and the inventive application of leverage, a satisfying dance of thinking and muscle. The axle  as well bolted in to the mounting made for it at the top of the sculpture for the first time yesterday. The wheel hub has been altered to make its shape compatible with the sweeping curves of the base. It won't be long before it will be time to turn attention to the stainless steel kinetic elements.

   "Glimpses of the Promised Land" has proven a worthy adventure so far. Every step of the way has led to satisfying surprises and visual drama that have delighted me. I have some faith that if I can continue to do that for myself in a genuine way, I have a good chance of giving that experience to others.

    Lastly for this installment, I will tell you about another gifted young man who I've had the pleasure of getting to know. Vu Nguyen is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill and came to me wanting to create a website about me for a school project. The result of his efforts are extraordinary, and I will add a link to it here:


For any of my artist friends who are looking for a way to get a web site up and running, I can highly recommend you avail yourself of his talents. E-mail Vu direct to begin that conversation.          





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Photos by

Clay Carmichael


Mike Roig