In college, I would often incorporate the subject matter of my science and humanities courses into the concepts for my artwork. Philosophy wound up being the perfect muse for my creativity. However, other fields of study such as astronomy, biology and anthropology offered great topics to help enhance the thematic focus of my projects.
It happened by coincidence that my 3D Design instructor assigned a project for us to realize a common object made from an unassociated material the same week my physical anthropology class was learning about Raymond Dart and his theorized Osteodontokeratic tool culture. My imagination ignited in wondering what a common everyday tool would look like if the materials used in its manufacturing were restricted to bone, tooth and horn. Having a background in special effects make-up, I had a fairly clear idea how to pull off the sculpture and make it look like a living object. After a few days of sketching out the design, I went to work sculpting a hammer that appeared to be grown from flesh.
The backstory for the ODK Hammer was a satire about the preservation of scarce resources. Rather than regarding the ODK Hammer as an item from prehistoric origins, it was an object for the future. The hammer wasn’t just crafted by finding bones and wrapping them together with skin or leather. The entire hammer would be grown using advanced bioengineering techniques based on stem cell research.
It took a week to sculpt the first hammer. I used polymer clay as my medium, and finished the coloring of the piece with Kryolan theater paints. When I debuted the hammer in class, it was received with intrigue and disgust. A couple weeks later, I was asked to present it at the Palm Springs Art Museum as part of student exhibit/competition.
Unfortunately, while packing up the sculpture to deliver it to the museum, the box it was stored in fell on the ground and the ODK Hammer cracked. That night, I immediately went to work on a brand new sculpture. The second version incorporated some new design features that made the design look and feel more organic. This second version was included in the La Quinta Art Foundation Scholarship Fund exhibition at The Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts in Palm Desert.
Although I had drawn up some addition designs for the concept, I put the whole project aside to focus on newer projects.
Fast forward to the spring of 2012. During the layout design and editorial phases of the In A Place art book, I decided to take on a separate art project to help keep me from constantly tinkering with the In A Place tables. Returning to The Osteodontokeratic Hammer project was the perfect alternative.
In the next couple weeks, I will post blog updates highlighting the different aspects of the full project. For now, I leave you with these additional preview images.