Born in 1946, Marblehead, MA
Works in Enosburg Falls, VT

Year created:
Campfire Girls, David Stromeyer
Click images for larger view

7' x 8' x 7' 6"

Cor-ten Steel
deCordova Permanent Collection 1981.2, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth M. Jackson

David Stromeyer’s formal steel sculptures extend the legacy of mid-century monumental sculpture in the landscape, such as the work of Anthony Caro, Mark di Suvero, and David Smith. Stromeyer’s 1970s work was inspired by Russian Constructivist sculpture of the twentieth-century, particularly works assembled from industrial materials. Throughout his career, Stromeyer has worked primarily with steel, giving it shape using a “cold” method, meaning he does not use heat when manipulating the mental using a massive 150-ton press. Employing this process, the artist has found the material to be incredibly malleable: "Steel can be fantastically expressive. It can take a bend, a twist, a crunch, a fold, and be left singing its new form forever. It can carve out wonderfully intriguing spaces with the slash of a line, the slice of a plane. My art is the result of a dialogue with my material.” In the 1980s he began experimenting with color, a development that evolved from painting. Colored in vivid blues, reds, and yellows, Stromeyer’s massive late sculptures  seem to float across fields like leaves in the wind.

The title and shape of Campfire Girls recalls an open-log burning fire by combining tubular elements and flat surfaces into a semi-abstract composition. The piece is one of the artist’s earliest sculptures, in which he explored the intersection of solids and voids. About the sculpture, Stromeyer wrote, “In 1976 the guts of my pieces exploded, revealing their inner spaces which, I hope, challenge all the viewer’s perceptions and concepts of space.” Stromeyer let the sculpture’s natural and earthy patina of its oxidized Cor-ten steel surface give it its color.

Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Stromeyer earned degrees in mathematics and studio art from Dartmouth College. He also studied film at University of California, Los Angeles. His art is in the collections of the Delaware Museum, Wilmington, DE; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA. DeCordova showed early support for Stromeyer’s career, giving him his first solo show in 1977. The artist has been based in Northern Vermont since 1970, where he has converted a 200-acre former dairy farm into Cold Hollow Iron Works, a sculpture park of his works and where he creates his work from concept to completion.