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Public Art Tour | Cambridge Arts Council
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"Quiet Cornerstone"

Dorrien, Carlos

Harvard Square, Sculpture

 

Winthrop Park


Title: Quiet Cornerstone
Date: 1986
Materials: Granite
Dimensions: 2' x 8' x 11'
Location: J.F. Kennedy & Mt. Auburn Streets

 

"Of course, even with a public piece one wants to make beautiful objects, to provoke questions, to make a personal statement, but finally public art is a gift to others, and if you love your medium, that magic comes through." - Carlos Dorrien

Seeing and experiencing

Located in the middle of a busy city park, this piece initially might be mistaken for a natural outcropping of rock. However, closer inspection reveals the work of an expert carver. Artist Carlos Dorrien loves working with stone, especially granite.

 

Even though granite is a difficult stone to carve, Carlos Dorrien hand cut areas of this rock. Can you identify which parts of the rock have been carved and which parts are untouched? What tools might have the artist used?


Quiet Stone invites active exploration. Touch it. Walk around it. Climb on it. Stand on it. How does your experience of the stone change? Can you find places where the stone feels almost soft?

 

Sit on the rock and look around. What surrounds this piece? How does your vantage point change your experience? Now sit on a nearby park bench and look around. Compare the two experiences.


Quiet Stone plays with the notion of time. The artist thought some people might see it as an ancient relic, a broken cornice from some long-ago building. It may remind others of an altar or rock from the woods. The rock will physically change over time as people touch it and the environment weathers it. As Dorrien says, "All this activity will give the stone a beautiful patina in years to come."

 

Another artist, Andy Goldsworthy, has written, "A stone changes a place with its presence." Imagine the park without Quiet Stone. Do you agree with Goldsworthy?


Finally, why do you think the artist chose the title, Quiet Stone?

Historical mapOnsite

What you will need: Sketchpad or paper, charcoal, crayon, or pastels.

 

Make rubbings of the different surfaces you find around Harvard Square: buildings, sidewalks, walls, bollards, etc. How many different kinds of stone can you find (slate, brick, granite, etc.)?

Hand-onCollage
What you will need: Large piece of cardboard (22" x 30"), sandpaper, chalk, glue.

 

Natural materials like stone vary a great deal in the way they feel. Think of the difference between a smooth rock like slate and the rougher surface of granite. Artists experiment with different materials to add texture to their work.

 

Try your own texture experiment. Wet your chalk with water. Then make marks and images on the sandpaper. Make a collage with these sandpaper drawings and the rubbings you may have created in the on-site activity. Rip up the drawings and rubbings into interesting shapes, photocopy them and glue them onto the cardboard. You have created a texture portrait.

Three Demensional

What you will need: Bar of soap, spoon, stick, pen tip.

 

Carlos Dorrien is a master stone carver, an artist intimately involved with his materials. It takes many years to reach Dorrien's level of artistry, but you can start by practicing on a soft material like soap. Use the spoon, stick, or pen tip to mark and shape your bar of soap. Incise patterns or letters. What other soft things can you find to carve?

In depth
What you will need: A sampling of material types (chalk, wire, wood, glass, aluminum foil, paper, etc.), cardboard or plates.

 

Dorrien's artwork invites people to sit and climb so the stone will get smoother over time. The weather will also erode, soften and shape the stone. How do different materials react to the forces of sun, rain, snow, heat and cold? Gather your materials and place them on the plates or cardboard. Leave them outdoors. What happens to these items over time? Check on them every few days and record your observations. Continue your experiment for at least a couple of months. What materials make good candidates for outdoor art?