An Ecstatic Life of the Spirit (Marc Di Suevero)

An exploration of Mark di Suvero’s Helmholz Sculpture

Dimensions325 cm x 3060 cm x  450
Materials Wood, glass, and steel
Photo: Jason Swisher
Photo: Jason Swisher

Mark di Suvero is a sculptor whom I greatly admire. I have considered the idea of doing a sculpture about him for many years but nothing gelled. When the exhibition at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art became a reality, the door was opened. I thought it would be perfect to bring the sculpture Helmholz, which is on the grounds of the museum, indoors in a sense and pay homage to Mark di Suvero at the same time.

Mark di Suvero was born in Shanghai, China in 1936 of Italian Jewish parents. His father was a naval attaché for the Italian government. At the outbreak of WWII, the family emigrated to the US. While a philosophy major in college in California he began making sculpture. After college, he moved to New York to pursue his artistic career.

When researching the artist’s work, I noticed that many of the sculptures began as India ink brush drawings. Although I did not find one for “Helmholz” I created one in his style and then reproduced it in a larger scale in the sandblasted and painted glass.

Why glass? When a drunk driver ploughed into the Helmholz sculpture virtually destroying it, I was reminded of the fragility of any material and glass becomes a symbol of the acknowledgement of that principle. I have portrayed the artist welding and grinding the reconstructed work. He is made of steel like his sculptures and his spirit cannot be broken. This was proven earlier in his career when he came back from a terrible accident where his legs were crushed, and it was thought he would never walk again.

The quotes stenciled on the floor give a glimpse into his philosophical approach to art and life.