Monday, August 3, 2009

Sculpture at AHS Museum

Wonder how a model feels when he poses for a sculpture? Read this article submitted by Historical League President Jeannine Moyle.

The Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park is housing a sculpture that was designed and made in 1996 on Commission of Anne Woosley, then Acting Director of the Central Division of AHS.

Originally the sculpture took a prime spot on the main floor in a room of its own that one entered following the movie “Traces” shown in the small theater behind the Admissions desk. It now is at the top left of the staircase.

Staff at the museum at that time picked from the community those who would model for each figure. The six characters that were decided upon to be depicted were: Apache Youth, c. 1884; Akimel O’Odham (Pima) Basket Maker, c. 1863; Irish Soldier, c. 1867; Mexican Miner, c. 1865; Chinese Entrepreneur, c. 1883; Mormon Missionary & Daughter, c. 1877; Midwestern Land Developer, c. 1891; and California Cattleman, c. 1886. Each figure was made by the Sculpture Basis, Inc. New Mexico.

Mid March 2009, Norberto (can't find his last name) stopped by the museum to take a look at the sculpture as he had modeled for the image of the Mexican Miner.Talking with him, he described how they went about making the mold for this sculpture.

The model would wear very skimpy clothing like short shorts or swimming trunks with hair under a net. Their body would be covered with Vaseline. Next it would be covered with wet plaster strips. The plaster strips create a mold. When that hardened it was cut in sections and numbered, reassembled, reinforced and them smoothed out and strengthened. A sealer agent was applied so the cast would not then stick to the mold.

Various materials were used on the torso, head, hands and feet as the cast was joined in a layer of fiberglass and polyester. Fine carving of the head and hands was done to create a life-like reproduction of the model. This was most time-consuming.

A selected costume and authentic reproduction of accessories was chosen. After that the dressed unit is sprayed and clothing impregnated with a polyester material which hardens and strengthens the figure.

After the figure is initially painted it gets another finishing when final alterations are made. Then it is given the final paint. All color, texture and highlights were selected by the museum.

If you haven’t taken a long look at the sculpture recently, do revisit it and think of the people represented as these are the real founders of our territory.