Joe Chirchirillo, Crooked Crow and Joshua Tree #2

Joe Chirchirillo has been creating sculpture since the early 1970’s. After attending college in New York and Arizona, he moved to the NY Metro area and settled in Jersey City, NJ. He was part of the first wave of artists moving to this outpost across the Hudson, building the budding art scene there. In the early 1980s he was involved with artists from lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who were putting on large shows in abandoned buildings and blighted urban lots. These artist-run shows, such as the “Monument Redefined” and the “Terminal Show”, were huge public events. Both received tremendous attention from viewers and critics alike. At this time his work was reviewed in Art Forum, Art in America, Vanity Fair and on, numerous occasions, in the New York Times. His work in these shows were the basis for his 1986 NEA fellowship.

In the 1990’s he began to experiment with kinetic sculpture. Looking for a way to examine the similarities and contrasts between the natural and mechanical world. He refers to these as his “Sculpture Systems” series with the aim of creating “nature machines” that mimic natural processes.

He moved to North Bennington 15 years ago. Life in Vermont has changed his work in major ways. Spending so much more time outside and being influenced constantly by the natural world prompted him to concentrate solely on outdoor sculpture. This led to a series of cast concrete sculpture that are conceptually similar to the kinetic work but look very different. In his own words: “I’m always

working on creating sculpture that will last. This is my way of responding to the throw away economy which is so destructive to our environment.”

Most recently he is working on a welded steel commission, one of which, Crooked Crow, is installed in the field above the Bennington Museum. This work, which was commissioned for and installed in the museum’s upper meadow in 2018, was the genesis of the museum’s plans to install more outdoor sculpture on their grounds. 

Joshua Tree #2, was inspired by a family trip to California. I found these plants to be very interesting; I thought they looked as if they are part tree and part cactus. I also was struck by the fragility of these ancient plants and how they live in a very specific microclimate. As their environmental niche changes, they will disappear.

Over the course of my career I have been concerned with creating work that is drawn from elements found in nature, architecture and mechanical world. I am interested in finding architectural order emerging from nature and translating that into sculpture. This piece is a good example of those ideas.

I am also interested in creating pieces that are expressive, visually interesting, have structural integrity and will withstand the elements. It is very important to me that my sculpture is made to last. This is in response to the throw away economy we live in. It seems that the more we know how harmful plastics are for the environment the more we seem to produce and throw away.