Born 1969, Belleville, IL
Lives and works in Warwick, RI


Year created:
Oilpull, William Martin
Click images for larger view

7’x 3’x 6’

Steel and copper
Lent by the Artist

No longer on view.

William Martin creates sculptural contraptions that look like they could work, but, are, in fact, functionless. Drawing from the history of invention, Martin invites viewers to create new imagined narratives for these humorous and technologically useless devices. Although inspired by the mechanics of industrial parts, the handcrafted qualities of his sculptures resonate with the artist’s intended desire to create the indescribable.

Oilpull is one such gadget of impossibility. Each of its elements is an assemblage of shapes derived from old mid-western farm industry. Even the title refers to a specific name-brand of steam-powered tractors. The cylindrical parts of the work are abstractions of grain silos, the disc-like components originate from steam train wheels, and the base is a wooden interpretation of a train track. Horse head oil pumps that Martin remembers from the expansive fields in the mid-west inspire the sculpture’s arced pose. Oilpull’s materials and various parts reference industrial equipment, but in their aggregation they are transformed into an elegant work of abstraction.