In 1979, Louisiana Art and Science Museum presented an exhibition titled “From Clay to Bronze: Frank Hayden,” which centered upon the lost-wax process, a technique for casting bronze whose name is derived from the melting, or loss, of the wax model during casting.
“From Clay to Bronze” featured models of Hayden’s works that demonstrated each stage of the process. In this updated exhibition, “From Clay to Bronze Revisited,” the 1979 display is re-created alongside a contemporary approach to bronze casting contributed by local sculptor Brad Bourgoyne, who uses computers and 3-D printers to aid his casting and sculpting processes, a news release from the museum said.
“From Clay to Bronze Revisited” offers visitors an intimate look at how some of the large-scale pieces on display in the museum’s “Monuments and Metaphors” exhibition were made. Step-by-step explanations, a video and models compare the lost-wax processes practiced by Hayden with the possibilities offered by 3-D technology seen in Bourgoyne’s work.
“What’s interesting about this exhibition is that it reveals the process behind the artwork on display. Not only that, visitors are exposed to modern technology and are able to make connections between the disciplines of art, science and history in order to better understand what they are seeing” Communications Coordinator Douglas Kennedy said.
During Louisiana Art and Science Museum’s Art After Hours program May 7, Bourgoyne showed visitors how useful and innovative 3-D scanning and printing used in art can be.
After a tour of the galleries that explored the history of sculpture-making, the artist led visitors to a small computer station set up in the midst of “From Clay to Bronze Revisited.”
Using a handheld digital scanner attached to his computer, Bourgoyne captured the outline of Sarah Weinstein. The small scanner read the infrared light emitted as heat to capture details — right down to Weinstein’s glasses.
Bourgoyne then explained and demonstrated that with the help of several computer programs, he would be able to manipulate details and apply “finishes,” such as bronze, to the working “sculpture” of Weinstein, much like the ones featured in the gallery. Had this been a complete process, the artist would have taken the images back to his studio, printed the sculpture via 3-D printers and covered the product in clay in order to refine the details by hand.
“Technology is making a difference in the way art is made while still allowing artists to manipulate works using a hands-on process — to be creative and innovative,” said Collections Manager Lexi Guillory. “Although he (Bourgoyne) is using 3-D printers, he still refines his works by hand.”
“It’s important to us that our visitors are able to connect with local artists and artworks, hear, see and learn from their stories, and discover ways in which art and science connect in incredible ways. All of this leads to a deeper understanding of their place in the world,” Kennedy said.
“From Clay to Bronze Revisited” and “Monuments and Metaphors: Art in Public Spaces” run through June 28 at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum.