Andrea Dickinson

Beautiful Disasters

Senior Project December 2013


Finding beauty in disaster might be a difficult idea to grasp sometimes, but I believe it is possible. My Senior Project explores different natural disasters and the hidden beauty behind their power. Natural disasters affect more than 450 million people each year, leaving many people without homes and an estimated 100 billion dollars of damages. These events have an uncanny ability to change the face of the earth in catastrophic ways. Many Floridians have felt the power behind these disasters and it is both incredible and humbling. Through my work I explore different lines, textures, and patterns that these events leave in their wake. By looking at natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanoes from a different perspective, I abstract and illustrate what I believe makes them beautiful and powerful. 

           For the majority of my life, nature has played an important role in my work. I have always been fascinated by patterns in nature, such as the imperfections in a leaf or broken shards of shells on the beach. More recently I have become particularly interested in the disruptions of these normal patterns. Through my project, I began to focus on the extreme disruptions in nature, such as natural disasters. Each unique shape and texture I found in these disruptions also seemed to convey a sense of power and strength. Focusing on the chaos and intensity of energy behind the disasters was important to me, and in turn became one of the main concepts in my Senior Project. Each piece that I made for the project reflects a different natural disaster and its various levels of power.    

 I enjoy working with metal and for this specific project I believe this material also helped reinforce the strength behind the natural disasters. To create my pieces, I used several different sizes of steel and stainless steel between the ranges of 14 to 24 gauges. Using an assortment of tools, such as a grinder and plasma torch, I cut each piece accordingly. The plasma torch was extremely helpful and gave me a precise and vivid edge on several of my sculptures. Using the MIG welder, I assembled and textured the pieces. Different textured grinding wheels gave me the ability to create swirls and lines on the metal that would have been hard to do otherwise. Adding heat and acrylic paint to some of the sculptures helped me bring out the metal’s natural colors. The final process for the steel pieces was adding a powdered-coat to prevent rusting and oxidation. Through each process, the pieces were able to develop a new characteristic that helped them better relate to their intended natural disaster.

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