Grayson Stoff

Growing Up, Down and Sideways

Senior Project April 2015


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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

Physically and personally, we grow every day, we stretch out for help, hoping that we will reach a place or people that we can depend on. Connections are made that eventually become the support for our continued growth. This growth within us mimics the growth of the natural world. Like trees, mountains, and caves, our growth is slow and tedious, but the result is lasting. This project started as a search for personal growth, but I discovered how we are supported by each other, giving us the strength to grow even further. I collect most of my materials from fig trees, which perfectly symbolize the importance of connections. They only grow when the seeds land on another tree or structure and rely on that support to mature. Their roots hang and connect with the ground and eventually become a support beam for the tree to expand. I believe that people make similar connections with each other, and we depend on each other to continue growing and thriving.

I consider myself to be very blessed with the life I have been given and the artist I have grown to be. Without the support of my friends, family, and teachers, I couldn’t have developed the skills and drive to create this project ending my endeavors at Florida Gulf Coast University. These sculptures I have built represent all the people who have supported me, merged with my love of the natural beauty of Southwest Florida. I enjoy taking the dead and broken parts of nature, and giving them new life in the form of these sculptures. When I’m hiking through the woods or kayaking along the rivers and creeks, I admire the strange and impressive forms the trees and roots make when they grow into each other. Like the fig trees and mangroves, without making new connections we only limit our ability to grow. This work illustrates my journey as a student artist and my realization that I cannot fulfill my aspirations on my own. The progressive sculptures begin to connect, grow and morph together; just as the relationships we make contribute to the realization of who we are.

Through the use of natural materials I have built an installation to represent my own growth as an artist and as a person, and how the connections I have made with others has helped me grow. Going outside to collect fallen twigs for this project gave me a chance to be inspired by the growth and life cycle of trees. I have spent the last couple months collecting thousands of sticks from the fig trees in my neighborhood. I break them down into smaller pieces and use adhesives to assemble them into the biomorphic forms. The larger sculptures are made with a light inner structure of wood and foam. The shaping and bending of the copper has also been revealing; copper is just as malleable as I am. I cut and bend copper wire into the clusters of roots that shoot off of the main structures and often connect to another sculpture. The leaves are cut and shaped by hand from copper flashing. Moss is then placed along the sculptures to add texture and color. Once individual works were completed they are hung and placed strategically in the space to mimic a living, growing environment.