Babe the Blue Ushi
About This Project
Babe the Blue Ushi is one of 69 fiberglass oxen designed by local artists in New Jersey as part of a public art display called the Hopewell Valley Stampede. The Stampede is the first major project organized by the Hopewell Valley Arts Council. The oxen will be on display around Hopewell Valley, NJ from August 15 – October 19, 2014. Babe was supported by the Straube Foundation and the Tenants of Straube Center (with particular thanks to Alisandra Wederich!). My ox is proudly installed at the Straube Center property in Pennington, NJ.
The Hopewell Valley Stampede website offers many ways to be involved with this public installation. You have the opportunity to vote for your favorite ox as well as bid on it in an online silent auction. There is a full map of installation locations and a contest to find all 68 oxen. Also, through Facebook and other social media outlets, you are able to hashtag your ox experience with “#ollyox” and “#oxspotting.” The Hopewell Valley Arts Council Facebook page is here.
Here is a direct link to the Stampede website where you may vote and/or bid on Babe in the silent auction (all functions should be working soon). Below, you will find my artist’s design statement as well as a variety of photos documenting the creation of Babe and the finished project.
UPDATE: Babe was awarded Honorable Mention by the panel of Stampede Judges! He will be available for purchase at the Hopewell Vallery Arts Council Live Auction and Gala on January 24, 2015! Please visit the Gala page for more information.
Babe the Blue Ushi is a product of East meets West. From the West, Babe the Blue Ox, the beloved best friend of Paul Bunyan (as I was inspired by in my childhood). And from the East, the Japanese art of shibori, a dye process using indigo (a technique I am currently exploring as an artist); also, “ushi” translates to ox in Japanese.
With this design, I used a combination of arashi, kumo, and itajime shibori techniques (resist dyeing) on cotton, which I then glued to the ox directly. Indigo retains its color with exposure to UV light, so there is no worry of fading if the ox is outdoors (plus the automotive seal coat the ox received will protect the fabric further).
I wanted to bring a childhood folk tale to life-sized proportions with this sculpture, perhaps inspiring a younger generation to enjoy the melding of American and Japanese cultures.