Nat Friedman

“Fractal Torso III”

Barre gray granite, 12" x 9" x 1.5", 2007.

After a block of granite is quarried, the rough sides are sawn off with a diamond saw, similar to slicing off the sides of a rough block of cheese. These rough sides are referred to as rough backs and are simply discarded at the scrap piles of stone yards. I salvage rough backs in order to create sculptures that I refer to as fractal torsos. A fractal torso is a metaphor for survival. It corresponds to putting the pieces of your life back together after a tragic experience such as war, death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction, or a spell of depression. The space represents the part of your life that is no longer there. Usually in abstract form-space sculpture, the space does not have a specific significance. However, in a fractal torso the space is particularly significant. It can have a painful significance as in the death of a child or a positive significance as a sense of freedom after conquering an addiction or conquering depression. The addiction or depression is no longer there.

A fractal torso is made by first breaking a piece of rough back into pieces. This is done by drawing straight lines on the smooth saw-cut side of the rough back and then tapping along these lines with a chisel until the stone breaks. A center-piece is removed and then the remaining pieces are joined back together with epoxy. Before joining, the edges of the broken pieces are broken down with a bush hammer so that the individual pieces are clearly seen. This represents psychological joins that are not always perfect.

Only fractal geometry can convey the survival of a tragic experience.

Nat Friedman, Professor of Mathematics, University at Albany - SUNY

" On a whim, in 1971 I took an adult-education course in sculpture and discovered I loved carving wood and stone and have been an avid sculptor ever since. I started out making sculptures with spaces due to the influence of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. About fifteen years ago I started making form-space sculpture by breaking granite, removing pieces to create space, and then using epoxy to join the remaining pieces back together. Random fractal geometry is introduced by the fracturing of the granite. Although I tap the stone with a chisel along a straight line, the stone does not always break along a straight line. Usually mathematical sculpture is not about the human psyche but rather about beautiful forms or complicated fractal designs. Here the fractal torso series is a metaphor for the human psyche."