Born 1943, Terrell, TX
Lives and works in Carbondale, CO

Year created:
James Surls, Walking Flower Times the Power of Five

James Surls. Walking Flower Times the Power of Five. 2008. Powder coated steel.

Click images for larger view
powder coated steel
Lent by the artist
Exhibit Date: 
On View Nov 30, 2012

James Surls is an internationally renowned American sculptor whose work uses industrial materials to speak to the undeniable beauty of the natural world. In his abstract creations, Surls plays with dueling themes of nature and industrialization, and explores how materials such as bronze, plastic, and steel can be manipulated into an expression of humanity. Raised in rural Texas, Surls developed an interest in the complex relationship between nature and machinery while working on oil industry pipelines, a bond that inspires much of his sculpture.

In Walking Flower Times the Power of Five, Surls employs his recurring motif of a beautiful flower to represent the softer, more majestic side of human nature while contrasting it with the hardness of the wheel-like botanical’s bare branches. The result is a surreal flower that seems as though it is breathing and alive and could walk or roll away at a moment’s notice. Though made of steel, Surls’ sculpture has an organic quality that appears simultaneously earthly and otherworldly.

The title, Walking Flower Times the Power of Five, reminds us of the science in nature and the presence of numerical permutations in our everyday surroundings. The sculpture has a core of five arms whose branches double and then quadruple until there are a total of one hundred arms. With every extension yielding a factor of five, Surls allows the viewer to see the logic that is omnipresent in the chaotic beauty of nature.

James Surls received a BS from Sam Houston State College and a MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He taught at Southern Methodist University and the University of Houston until 1982. In 1979, he helped to establish the Lawndale Art and Performance Center in Houston, a space for local artists to expose a wider audience to contemporary art. In the midst of Lawndale and his teaching career, Surls moved to Splendora, Texas which marked the beginning of a twenty year period of intense artistic productivity. His retrospective: James Surls: The Splendora Years; 1977-1997 came to deCordova in 2006.  Walking Flower Times the Power of Five was displayed in 2012 on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway in the center of downtown Boston and was also exhibited in 2009 for the Art in the Parks Program on Park Avenue in New York City.

No longer on view.