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15 A Childhood Passion Now Reality -Sand Sculpture by Calvin Seibert


Love for digging in Sandboxes is common among kids. It is not different with Calvin Seibert, who grew up creating towers and grand castles from sediment piles. However, for Seibert it is not mere Sand Sculpture art as childhood pastime.

Calving was born to a family in Colorado and it was more of snow than sand. Calvin’s father was an international skier, and he co-founded the Vail Ski Resort. Calvin, from early age experimented constantly making art and his mother raised him to be an artist. The path of Calvin led him to map-making, silkscreen classes, ceramics, created his own painting and magazine. This led him to attending in New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts.

Calvin Seibert, the Colorado-born artist, studied at the Visual Arts School. He started sculpting modernist buildings clean edges, sharp angles and several geometric shapes resembling brutalist architecture.

Seibert started by mixing sand and water to create layers, while the smoothing and packing was done by hand. He cleaned the edges with knives and trowels. He begins working from the top to down and takes great care to maintain the horizontals levels.

Seibert tells he is moved to Colorado and now limits his beach time, though he dreams even now of transforming a sand pile at the Venice Biennale.

Calvin Seibert studied fine arts in New York City, while his fellow students Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring were drawn to streets. Calvin Seibert took to libraries for architectural plans, engineering, and schematics. Moreover he was taken by Alice Aycock and Will Insley artists’ work who attended classes. They devised architectural languages expressing imagined worlds and far-ranging ideas.

Calvin Seibert does not deny that he is fond of sandcastles. He likes to make them and see the real progress of completion. In 1960s, the construction sites were heaps of scrap material and it was wasteful. He recalls that at age 12 he learnt from a builder how to have a concrete without cracking.

There is a certain sensibility that my friends will detect even in my earliest work. That said, my sandcastles have gone through phases. As a kid I saw Eero Saarinen’s JFK Terminal and for some time after that, I made sandcastles with swooping curves. Still, I always move on and in the 80s I tended to make very symmetrical sandcastles. Fascist Post-Modernism I would joke. Of course, symmetry is difficult to achieve, it just takes too long and so I have pretty much avoided it. I always try to do something different from the day before or recall an earlier castle that might be improved upon.

By the age of ten, he saw a house model that the initial framing in balsa wood, it had no doors, walls, a roof or windows. It was the time he starting making things that were open and kept as unfinished in the same way. Now, looking back he can see that he was making more of sand sculpture. These sandcastles are not architecture, but they are architectural.

Sand sculpture is one of ancient art forms that are unique. Each castle according to him looks good in photographs. He says creating it is a solitary experience as crowds are watching. He makes on empty beach the castles and keeps his back towards the crowd. He does not prefer crowded beaches as he needs to police peoples dogs and children. If not slightly touching the sand castle is enough to bring down his hours of work.

Modern Sand Sculpture-Calvin Seibert

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