Monday, April 1, 2013

Tiger Mothers

For Convergence: the Boston Sculptors Gallery 20th anniversary exhibition on the Christian Science Plaza, I made a proposal to create a Tiger Mother figure. This figure was inspired in part by the book 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother' by Amy Chua. In the book she talks about raising two daughters, one in a traditional way, and one in a more laid back manner. Since The First Church of Christ Scientist invited me to make two figures for Convergence, that would be installed at  each end of the stone seat ring near the fountain, I wanted to site them facing one another on the plaza, or standing guard like sentinels, facing forward, in the open, since sculpture is best viewed in the round. Taking inspiration from the book, one figure would be a white tiger with black stripes, and one would be a white tiger with red stripes, symbolizing the two themes about mothering, tradition and love. Tiger Mothers embody the idea that one has to be a different parent to each one of one's kids, because each child is unique.

The stripes were painted on with spray paint, since this was an urban setting. After I painted the striped, I realized they also symbolized stretch marks, and the tribe of women mothers. The stripes also reference the scientific word "streak" for a group of tigers. On the cheeks of each figure, I inscribed the Chinese characters for Tiger and Mother, since in the wild, when scientists identify tigers, they describe their markings as caligraphy. I thought I would paint the Tiger character on the right cheek of each figure, and the Mother character on the left cheek of each one, since you would read left to right, and facing the Tiger Mother figures, the Tiger character would be on the left, and the Mother character would be on the right.

As to the proportions of my figures, as you can see below, the Tiger Mother, maquette is a wood sculpture, that has a very warm , maternal feeling. I used this as a model for the larger creations in styrofoam that were covered in cement.

The bases were made out of wood, approx 4'x4'. The bases were painted to match the sculptures, one black, one red. The black and white tiger was mounted on the red base, and the red and white tiger was mounted on the black base, since tradition and love are intertwined with mother hood, which these sentinels imply. In two dimensions, the red tiger has black stripes and the black tiger has red stripes, but the sculptures posed more challenges to resolve.

Inspired by the Mother Church, Tiger Mothers, stood guard opposite one another at the Children’s fountain on the Christian Science Plaza from May-October 2013. Fierce and protective as wild animals, but loving, warm and human, these sentinels are a tribute to Amy Chua’s recent book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

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