Whether it’s the clicking, the clacking, the reflections, or its unpredictable movement, there’s something mesmerizing about Larry Fransen’s sculpture My Turn to Reflect (seen in the video above by the artist). Juror Melissa Staiger recognized it as best in show and awarded Fransen the Marshall Award in this month’s exhibit, “Orbit.”
Fransen’s experiments with beauty in motion started in his wood shop with clocks, as he wrote in this 2014 guest blog post. More recent sculptures have played with shadows, but this one uses reflected light. Hanging by a monofilament, it also takes things in a more off-the-wall direction:
What motivated you to create a suspended sculpture?
Larry Fransen: In my past, I built suspended skeleton clocks. These clocks exposed to a greater degree the inner workings of the clock. My suspended sculpture reduces the external support to a single bolt in the ceiling. This enables one to walk around it, which has great appeal to me.
The cement ceilings in The Art League Gallery prevented me from securing my sculpture to the ceiling. [Instead, it hangs from a counterweighted stand.]
What does the title mean to you?
The geometric structure in the rotating wheels reflects light when they reach a certain point in their rotation, thus My Turn to Reflect. In The Art League Gallery, the sculpture is right under a large fluorescent light that interferes with much of this feature.
You started out with clocks, then created sculptures that move but don’t tell time. What prompted that new direction?
There is much more artistic freedom with sculptures over timepieces. As well, I enjoy the faster movement. The sculptures have been a lot more fun to create.
What were the challenges in creating a piece that’s suspended instead of wall-mounted?
As far as I know, My Turn to Reflect is the first kinetic sculpture with this type of mechanism to be supported by a single line. So, while building it, I wasn’t sure that it would be stable enough for the escapement to work. As it turns out, the rotating members cause some wobble without impairing its operation.
For the sculpture to work optimally, the middle supporting acrylic piece needs to be plumb. To achieve this, each component’s weight is balanced with the same amount on the other side of the support.
One of the features of my suspended sculptures is that there is greater freedom to make them more three-dimensional. The rotating members in my wall-mounted sculptures were more two-dimensional because they had to fit between two narrow belts.