I constructed a model of the work from basswood and during this process I realized that the horizontal orientation of did not communicate the tension and sense of displacement I was interested in. I turned the model on end to emphasize its means of construction. By viewing the concave and convex surfaces, the viewer would more easily grasp that the work was made of thousands of pieces of wood, each the same length, and better understand the mass of material that was displaced.
At this point I was still thinking of the work as standing horizontally, with the base on the ground and the "image" of the explosion rising from it.
I began building a model of the sculpture from basswood and at a certain stage I decided that to highlight the difference between "sculpture" and "base" I would paint everything above the "base" white—the natural wood representing the river and the white area, the explosion.
Conceptually, my breakthrough came when I began to see the explosion, the island, and the river as single entity—in the moment of the explosion. I decided that rather than a traditional monument, such as an equestrian statue where you have a sculpture set on top of a carved base, I would try to create a monument where the base and sculpture were ONE—the material of the base and the sculpture would be the same, held together with no obvious means other than the material itself.
I began to model the shape of the explosion and began to see the sculptural meaning of the work as a study in displacement.
Destruction is a central part of any creative act. In building a monument to Flood Rock, I chose to represent the moment of it's destruction, the explosion beneath the island which shattered the rock and allowed it to be hauled away by barges. The images of the island's destruction show giant plumes of water shooting in the air like a series of fountains.
I collected over a dozen illustrations and historical photographs showing the explosion and began to map the image, trying to understand where the photographs were made and working to create a three dimensional image.
A common thread through many of my earlier works has been an exploration of the hidden, unseen, aspect of the physical world. More recently my work has investigated the reality of violence and how we become acculturated to it. In choosing the build a monument commemorating the destruction of Flood Rock, I hoped to address both of these issues.
Randall's Island and the East River as we know them today are the result of several centuries of manipulation and decisions by human to modify and "improve" upon the natural order. The existence of one Island today, Randalls Island, where previously there were two—Randalls and Wards Islands—is the result of massive energy and manpower carving and shaping the land. Likewise, the absence of the island known as Flood Rock from the East River today remains a lasting presence