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Arts & Culture

New Outdoor Artwork 'Thicket' Finds A Home At The Mint

The firebird in front of the Bechtler Museum uptown has a new neighbor. A large outdoor installation took residence this week on the terrace of the Mint Museum next door. WFAE’s Sarah Delia checked out the new work and spoke to the artist behind it.

This rainy week in Charlotte was a tough one to install an outdoor piece of art. From the street level a crane pulled up the pieces that make up “Thicket,” which is about 4,000 pounds. Its creator is Santa Fe, New Mexico based artist Tom Joyce.

Standing at seven and a half feet, the work has a definite presence.  Step back and the piece made of cast iron and stainless steel takes on a cube like shape. The closer you get, the more detailed it is—up close it looks like a spiky metal snowball that’s somewhat woven together.

"With any three dimensional piece of work you want to be able to view it both as compellingly up close as from far away. And this piece does require standing back at a certain point to be able to see the order of it. As well as the complexity you experience when you’re up close to it," says Joyce.

Joyce has a background in blacksmithing and it definitely comes out in this piece. There are 11 clusters of iron heads of hammers, or nuclei, as he likes to call them and 110 stainless steel rods jet through the clusters.

Tension and how the rods are woven together are the glue that holds it all together.

"It wasn’t until I started assembling the individual rods that I realized that it was going to work. There is always a risk factor whenever you design something that hasn’t been realized before and I liked that. That kind of anxiety that comes from treading new water, I think it’s important," Joyce says. 

Joyce says he combined old and modern techniques for this creation.

"The original hammer was CT scanned at the hospital to come up with a 3D model that I could rearrange and multiply into these forms. The casting was accomplished with using that 3D model, that was sent to a 3D printing company that is known for printing sand," Joyce says.

And there’s another element that will influence how the public will interact with this art, reflections of sunlight will hit the sculpture creating shadows and another image for the public to view up close.

Admission to the Mint this weekend will be waived so the public can get a closer look at Joyce’s work on the terrace—and also celebrate the Mint’s five year anniversary in Uptown.