March 18, 2024

Earthcasting at Splinter Creek

Sonia Thompson

The newest sculpture to adorn Splinter Creek's rolling hills will be installed in late 2024 at the base of Highland Meadow on the North Lake. The work is being created by artist and sculptor Thomas Sayre, who is known for his monumental sculptures made in and of the earth.

Across the Grain (2012) by Thomas Sayre was commissioned by the Caldwell Arts Council and sited in a park in the heart of the town of Lenoir, North Carolina. The large earthcast concrete circular form with jagged, toothy edges rises 26 feet above the ground. Referencing the water wheels, saw mills, and furniture factories that historically provided an economic basis for the town’s stability, the sculpture exudes optimism for future public endeavors, including the county's large collection of public art.

The process is called earthcasting, in which very large shapes are dug from the earth and filled with concrete mixed with iron oxide, along with structural supports. When the concrete cures, it is pulled up from the earth and permanently set in place. Earthcastings are often monumental in scale. Sayre, who developed the process, describes it as, “Making art in concert with forces that are much bigger than me.”

Sayre's process of earthcasting involves digging large shapes from the earth and filling them with concrete mixed with iron oxide.

With these sculptural forms, Sayre seeks to capture the intersection between the forces of human creativity and those of nature. Where the artist pushes, gravity pulls. Where manmade concrete is poured, the earth presses back with a texture, pattern, and color of its own.

Sayre's new sculpture for Splinter Creek will be a series of totems installed together at Splinter Creek.

Sayre's earthcast installation Flue, a series of barn shapes formed by concrete cast in a furrowed field and pulled into place, is located in downtown Kinston, North Carolina.
The large scale sculpture Sayre is creating for Splinter Creek will be installed on the property in late 2024.

Read more about other sculptures on display at Splinter Creek here, here and here.

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