Earth Vortex 2014

Boma, Tokunoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture

Commissioned by the Tokunoshima Art Festival

33 feet diameter, Earth, straw, eight local rocks excavated from site

Clay pine cones made by participants of the Fist Size Survival workshops.  Earth, water, straw, rocks, fired and unfired clay and cement, and vermiculite.


“Earth Vortex” was inspired by habu, the local snakes, and the legend of the oversized eel known and worshiped by the people known as “unangyanashi.”  Eight large rocks were dug up from the site and installed in the direction overlooking the ocean and outlying islands.  The work expresses the hidden force and vitality of the earth.

In addition, hundreds of pine cone-shaped clay sculptures, made in collaboration with school children and residents were placed around the central sculpture.  Titled “Fist Size Survival,” the original workshop was conceived and realized in 2013 in Fukushima to encourage hope and resilience in the aftermath of the 2011 Great Kanto Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster. Since pine cones are very resilient, designed to survive and thrive in natural disasters like mountain fires, the act of creation instilled hope for survival among the island people, many of whom were concerned with the general aging and decreasing size of the population in the island. Together, “Earth Vortex” and the clay pinecones from the workshop created a sanctuary for Boma residents, encouraging strength and endurance in the face of adversity.

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