Making: Capitoline Wolves

For the project at MoMA, see chapter 4, I made everything myself, and I felt that it did not go well. The research, meeting, and proposal process at MoMA took more than half of the time allocated for the entire project, so I was left with relatively little time to do material tests to get the forms and materials to a place that I loved. When I worked independently or in groups outside of institutions, projects took over a year to develop and were refined at a high level.
[ An aside: this is why, I realize now, many curators want to exhibit finished work. They also don’t have to pay to commission it; they can simply ask for your finished work on loan without paying for the labor to fabricate it.]
With institutional invitations, and for projects of a certain size, I decided to try paying people to make aspects of the work for me. So, I hired fabricators for the first time with the Capitoline Wolves project. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes that I made at MoMA. I knew that I could not work on the scale or speed that was necessary to meet the requirements of the commission if I were making it alone. To accomplish this mysterious task—the task of extending my labor into the bodies and hands of other people who are not collaborators —I made hundreds of sketches, and then technical drawings in Illustrator, and then renderings in Rhino, and then sent them to fabricators that friends recommended, to complete the work.

I knew that I could not work on the scale or speed that was necessary to meet the requirements of the commission if I were making it alone.

fig. 7-7 Capitoline Wolves, 2016, cherry wood, powder coated steel, dyed stoneware, local water, hand mirrored glass, copper bowls, performance, 29 x 36 x 72 inches each, forming a circle that is 15 feet in diameter. Commissioned by Cornell University. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Levi Mandel.
It was also important to me, as an artist doing so-called “socially engaged” projects, that the physical objects could stand on their own, as sculptures, regardless of the social engagement. I was upset by the theater-prop approach I often saw in exhibitions, of bright colors and plywood, and tried to convince curator Stephanie Owens that the objects should be made to last.
fig. 7-8 Research imagery that led to the creation of Capitoline Wolves, including clocks that use water and smell to mark intervals of time and the Lupa Capitolina, a bronze sculpture depicting a scene from the legend of the founding of Rome.
fig. 7-9 Technical drawings for Capitoline Wolves.
fig. 7-10 What shape should the table be, and how will individual tables fit together to make a gathering space? To determine shape of the table, and to see how tables fit together, Caroline Woolard created this geometric study.
fig. 7-11 Quick sketches that led to the creation of Capitoline Wolves.