The Penny


When I was about seven years old, I really looked at a penny. I pulled out my magnifying glass and studied the little coin as though it were a map of North America. I discovered that Lincoln wore a bow tie, just like my Dad, and that he had a smile like my Mom.
Many things interested me. The word Liberty followed behind the president and the building on the reverse side; maybe that was somewhere in Greece! But the thing that really intrigued me was how such a little thing could be made so well, whiskers and all.
I decided that there must either be very little people, with very little tools who made the coins, (and a lot of them because there were a lot of pennies in the jar on the kitchen counter), or regular-sized people with tiny tools and powerful magnifying glasses. Neither theory satisfied me, but I hoped that somehow, someday, I could make enchanting little sculptures when I grew up.

The American Museum of Natural History


Although intimately connected to the natural world of my home in northern New Jersey, I had the good fortune of living near New York City, where we would visit the American Museum of Natural History. There I would reverently approach the dioramas; the shy gorilla of the Congo mountains, the blubbery walrus of the white Arctic.


In the great halls, giant plastic earthworms, ancient wooden totem poles, meteorites, and a whale hanging from the ceiling linked me to the world at large, as well as to my own imagination. An oversized museum postcard, The La Brea Tar Pits, (detail on right, reproduced with permission), has been in my possesion since childhood.
Outside the museum front doors is a long parapet wall populated with low relief gazelles and other four legged animals. I would walk along that wall with my hand out, strumming the legs of my unusual picket fence. In great part, I am a sculptor because of that wall, those dioramas, because of the American Museum of Natural History.