Fiberglass Sculpture: Composites Go High Brow

 Waltzing Matilda by Alice AycockThis spring in New York City, fiberglass fills the median.

The Parks Committee of Manhattan’s Community Board 8 is promoting seven large-scale sculptures by internationally renowned artist, Alice Aycock, recently installed along Park Avenue in New York City. Aycock’s 2014 installation, Park Avenue Paper Chase, stretches along office buildings from 52nd to 66th streets, with fiberglass and aluminum sculptures placed on the grassy medians. According to Aycock, the sculptures represent the “invisible energy” of the city, the energy of thought and ideas colliding and piling up on itself, or spinning into the air.

 Wind Sculpture by Yinka ShonibareAbstract thinking, to be sure. But the principles of fiberglass for composite laminates apply to sculpture just as they do to the construction of a leading edge airfoil on a plane. It’s all about aerodynamics, the ability to manipulate the fabrics, the laminate’s ability to withstand pressure and the elements once in place.

Consider Wind Sculptures from British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE. These colorful “handkerchiefs” stand nearly 20 feet tall and have filled the outdoor Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England, with one just recently installed outside the North Carolina Museum of Art. They are made from glass-reinforced polyester fitted to a steel structure—the surface being a layer of pigmented resin, which the artist hand paints.

Retail Space Designer Karim Rashid describes his work for the Silk Road restaurant inside the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas, where fiberglass sculptures wed beauty and functionality: “Walking into an ocular entrance, fiberglass swags turn into furniture like a spice trader’s tent set up for a meal, (delivering) an understated opulence.”

Fiberglass Sofa Sculpture by Rashid KasimDoesn’t sound anything like what you’re doing with composites? Artists like Aycock, Shonibare, and Rashid may not reflect your particular style or interests, but their sculptures are worth a closer look. Aerospace engineers and boat repairmen alike will recognize similarities akin to what’s happening in their own workshops—and you just may be inspired. After all, one man’s composite part may be another man’s art.

Check out the complete selection of nearly 20 fiberglass fabrics from FibreGlast.com, and let us know what you’re creating.

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4 comments

1 david sligar { 06.01.14 at 4:23 am }

Very cool! My background is structural advanced composites in military aircraft applications but I love creative artists.

2 abowser { 06.02.14 at 12:21 pm }

David, thanks for the comment. It takes a lot of vision, doesn’t it? Fabricating with composites is a creative process, whether you’re an aerospace engineer or sculptor. I hope you’ll keep reading!

3 Susan L Solarz { 07.29.14 at 3:51 am }

I’m a sculptor working in Minneapolis and I use a lot of fiberglass in my work. In fact, I’ve just been perusing the Fiber Glast website looking for materials for my next project. It’s lightweight, strong, beautiful and takes pigment, what’s not to love?!

4 abowser { 07.29.14 at 12:52 pm }

Susan, please let us know how we can help and send us some photos. We love to see what people are doing with composites and customers always like to check out other projects. Thanks for reading!

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