The design for Charles Ginnever’s mammoth steel sculpture was inspired by one of nature’s unique primitive structures: the spiraling, chambered shell of the marine mollusk known as the nautilus. Like Richard Serra’s Five Plates, Two Poles, also constructed from massive plates of industrial Cor-Ten steel, the sculpture’s seemingly precarious balance merely suggests impending collapse. To understand its spatially complex form the viewer must circle around the piece, tracing the spiral motion of the progressively sized chambers to discover the secret of its design: six flat parallelograms, folded at regularly increasing intervals, that are welded together. Ginnever got the idea for folding flat sheets into a three-dimensional object—abstract yet suggesting a real figure—from Japanese origami, the decorative art of cut-and-folded paper. The changing light and seasons interact with the sculpture’s surfaces to create subtly shifting visual effects.
© 1998 Walker Art Center