Robert Chambers' Mindful Sculpture

Wednesday May 24th, 2017


Blog > Robert Chambers' Mindful Sculpture


Photo by Heike Dempster.

Walking into Emerson Dorsch, you feel the full scale of metal in the aptly named show, Iron Oar. Steel, iron and aluminum spin, roll, rock or float in the exhibit. It is a landscape of tactile movement. Onlookers hesitantly grab at each piece. Their quiet chorus of cautious whispers bounce off of the molded metal: “Can you touch it?”

Robert Chambers — exhibiting artist, curator, and YoungArts master teacher — answers by pushing a giant ball down a decagonal track and saying, “People try to go fast. You’re supposed to go slow.” For those who are not familiar with the baoding meditation tool, they are hollow metal balls with a second hollow metal ball inside. When they move around in your hand they imitate the sound of cascading water. At the gallery, a single one rests idly instead of the usual two that fit in your palm. It is large enough to expect that pushing it would be a job for Atlas. Instead, the same cooing of waves envelopes you; the movement is effortless.

Meditation is Robert Chambers' focus here. Each artwork is an unexpected tool of contemplation. Hanging on the wall are buffed aluminum clouds. One might assume that these are meant to inspire self-reflection in a literal way. In reality, the negative space between these clouds has been shown to entice relaxation, according to studies by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On the ground is a seemingly endless spinning copper flat top. Later, someone sits on top of it, looping around and around in full lotus. The piece can circle for an hour without interruption.  

What brings these all together is the application of physics and universal rules. Robert Chambers explains, “It’s from many years of experience working with similar materials. You understand the chemistry like a chef understands cooking. I’m very good at taking things in the fridge in anyone’s house and making a meal out of it. In this case I’m looking at the object and artisanship that goes back thousands of years and manipulating objects and processes in these shapes.” Chambers combines meditation and physics in this mindful playground, which you can interact with through July 8.


Photo by Heike Dempster.


Photo by Heike Dempster.


Photo by Heike Dempster.