Faculty Guest Blogger: Nikki Moser
Nikki Moser: If you have a superstitious family you have heard this; Bad things come in threes. If you are like me when two bad things happen you hear your grandmothers’ voices in the back of your head “there will be a third” and you shake your head a little and say to yourself, don’t be silly, or don’t invite bad luck (which seems another layer of superstition). We are creatures that seek meaning, structure, rules; The Holy Trinity, The Rule of Proportion, The Three Little Pigs, lots of things come in threes. Recently it is three acts of vandalism damaging local public art.
The First: Located at the center of Scranton’s beautiful walking trail is Confluence Sculpture Park. In September, a 1000# cast iron sphere by Vaughn Randall, titled “Everywhere is Nowhere” was vandalized by being rolled 60’ off the trail, down the bank and in into a ditch. The work had just been sold and was about to be shipped to the buyer. The damage was in the thousands of dollars and the sale fell through.
The Second: The Amphitheater at Marywood University, a newly placed bronze sculpture by Sister Cor is spray painted blue. The spray paint etches through the patina on the bronze figure and it has to be removed to be repaired.
The Third: It is always the third that gets you. Proof that bad things happen in threes. Keystone College artist Nikki Moser’s, “Handshake Deal…” Hey wait that’s me. Yep, this time it is my work that was vandalized. When I got the call that something happened, I arrived to find 2000 pounds of iron and steel laying in a twisted heap. My brother, who helps engineer my large works, said, “this took more than a few people and it took some time”.
Vaughn Randall, Sister Cor, and I all share the passion, ability, and opportunity to make and share our work with the world. Having your sculpture in a public place is, for me, like being able to share cupcakes on your birthday—but not just with your class, with the whole school, with the whole community. To be able to share the work you do in such a public way is filled with possibility. Every person who passes your work has the opportunity to experience something new that day. I am compelled to make; there has been no other choice for me. This is my passion and I respect how lucky I am to have found it and to live it. In founding the Confluence Sculpture Park in Scranton, I wanted to offer these interactions to as many artists and viewers as possible. I believe in the power of art (all art) to shape community. I believe this with my last breath.
I am compelled to make; there has been no other choice for me.
This time the reporter said to me, “I bet this feels like another punch in the gut.” I felt as deeply the damage of the first two instances of vandalism as I did of mine. I have been reflecting more on why we do what we do. What makes the choice between making and destroying? In my class, a predominate vocabulary word is “effort”. Webster’s Dictionary defines effort as
1. conscious exertion of power
2. a serious attempt
It took a conscious exertion of power to move and damage these three sculptures. It took time. Choices were made and great effort expended.
The question I keep asking is, what lays the framework for the path taken? What makes a person spend the effort to destroy what another has made? How do we as a community nurture effort to a positive outcome? How do we better respect the effort of everyone in our community so everyone feels valued and respected?
The next question the reporter asked was, “does this make you want to stop putting work in the community?” My answer to this is “NO, I will not stop believing art makes a difference”. We are given so many breaths, to breathe deeply and broadly, to power our effort. Now my question to myself is, “Where does my effort make a positive difference?”