March 13, 2011

Segments of Circles, Sections of Spheres

California sculptor William Wareham is known for constructions made up of sections of spheres and segments of rings, put together in fanciful—even whimsical—arrangements. Made from polished steel, these assemblages represent an exploration of the relationship between a two-dimension form (circle) and a three-dimensional shape (sphere).

One striking example is on the campus of Santa Rosa Junior College. Titled Lackawanna and installed in 2008, this polished steel sculpture of arcs and quarter spheres displays a finely calibrated balance that is almost mathematical.

"To activate space with steel is a challenge," Warham has stated. "I try to resolve this with both knowledge and intuition. I rework and change the forms to get a more dynamic relationship, interesting intervals, tension in the negative volumes, or contrasting scale; all with the purpose of bringing a great sense of visual delight to our lives."

Intriguingly, three ring segments at the top combine to form what, from some angles, looks like the Greek symbol pi—standing for the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

The sculpture's title comes from a name stamped on recycled steel that the sculptor used to fabricate the structure. The Lackawanna Steel Company, founded in 1840, became a subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel in 1922, before closing in 1983. From 1902, it was located in Lackawanna, New York.

Photos by I. Peterson

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