Steel has a number of uses, from stainless steel beams in buildings to galvanized steel bandings in shipping, it is an important tool that is growing more and more popular–in part because of it’s environmentally friendly nature: for every three tons of new steel produced, two tons of it will be from recycled stock. Even by-products like processing liquid, dust, and steelmaking slags can be extracted and sold. But one artist is giving this austere material a more creative treatment.
The town of Newport News, Virginia has just unveiled it’s newest sculpture. a piece by Jim Benedict, a Jacksonville University professor of sculpture, called “Hammer Tribute.”
The piece, which was acquired by the Newport News Public Art Foundation after a 2005 showing, is an ode to Benedict’s time growing up in rural Iowa and to working class people across the country.
The sculpture, which is made from hot-dripped galvanized steel, is 12 feet tall, depicts a hammer pulling a nail from a steel block and creating a permanent display in the cities industrial district.
Steel itself has become almost symbolic of working class Americans. The steel industry has long been one of the driving forces of the American economy going back to the 19th century.
By embracing steel as his medium, Benedict has also found a way to include working class people into a world that is not often accessible to them, the world of art.
That inclusion echoes the mission of the Newport News Public Art Foundation. According to executive director Sarah Barber in an interview with dailypress.com. “It’s surprising how many people will never step foot inside a museum. You go to cities in Europe and see sculpture after sculpture. We’re trying to bring a little bit of that piece here.”
Still, it is unlikely that steel will become too much identified with the world of art. The daily applications of steel (galvanized steel banding, automotive parts, construction), are too visible.
But perhaps this nod will open the door to a middle ground. An intersection between labor and leisure.
If you want to find out more about the various uses of steel or talk to professional steel strapping suppliers, contact Independent Metal Strap today.