Arts in Transit
Chesterfield Arts
St. Louis
Grand Center
U. City

Mystic Vessel Ascending

Mystic Vessel Ascending

Artist: Tim Curtis, American
Title: Mystic Vessel Ascending, 1997
Media: Steel
Dimensions: 25' h., 20' w., 15'd.
Owner: Laclede's Landing Foundation

About the Work
Ringed by trees, rising from a grassy mound, and pointing slightly upward is the skeletal frame of a vessel. An ancient shipwreck perhaps or is it the soul of a ship rising from its hull? Tim Curtis’s Mystic Vessel Ascending suggests both the spirit of past and future and also asks that we reflect on our own journeys as well as those that have come before.

The work is constructed of steel, earth, and trees, and Curtis comments, “I utilize elemental materials that reveal the primal forces of growth/change, creation/destruction, and life/death. These sculptures can be viewed as vessels or carriers of metaphysical meaning, which foster contemplation and a reconsideration of the worldly values to which we now scribe.” For Curtis, vessels serve as metaphors for a variety of imagery—that which carries the soul or spirit and the mourning process itself. The idea of ascension is also a part of the layered meaning associated with vessels. St. Louis regional history—the Mississippi River, the vessels that have traveled it, and the spirit of the peoples who have inhabited the land for centuries—are referenced in this piece.

Curtis completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in sculpture from San Diego State University and later received a MFA from the University of California at Berkeley. His work has been exhibited widely in this country as well as internationally—Korea, Austria, Italy, and most recently in Germany. He currently heads the sculpture department at the University of Miami, in Florida. The recipient of numerous awards including a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, Curtis also conducts workshops and residencies. In St. Louis, where he lived for an extended period, examples of his work can be seen at various locations—Laclede’s Landing, a Metrolink station, the City Museum, and Laumeier Sculpture Park.