While it has long been a hallmark of broadening the horizons of young people with exposure to various forms of art, pursuit of that end often entails walking silently in a stuffy room, staring at works hung on a wall or standing starkly under spotlights.
But on Jan. 23 at the entrance to Kings Court, sculptor Roger Wing proved that art, and the pursuit of a meaningful work, isn’t always so boring. During a clear but frigid morning, he fired up the power tools and transformed a simple block of ice into a finished product that recognized nurses for their hard work during the pandemic.
Armed with a chainsaw, Wing thrilled dozens who watched the flakes fly. Just about a half hour later, he finally rested, posing with a piece that strongly recalled the iconic World War II character of Rosie the Riveter.
“I’m going to tweak it a little bit,” he said. “But the punch-out takes about 20 to 30 minutes for a block this size.”
Wing has plied his trade on blocks of frozen canvas that took days to complete, but he noted how the process, from idea to completion, is basically the same.
“I make a drawing and I try to imagine the piece flat, as a two-dimensional piece, because ice is transparent,” he noted. “So you want to have a piece that really projects in one view. Sometimes you (make one) that has all views, but sometimes one really pops in just one view.”
Wing then projects that initial drawing onto a large piece of paper that gets placed on the block of ice, and freezes to the ice in shape. He’ll use the form fitted drawing to punch through the ice with a chainsaw and a grinder to complete the piece.
“It is a challenge; you have to see things more spatially. A drawing can give you a good starting point, but you have to visualize the whole thing in three dimensions,” Wing said of turning a flat line drawing into a viable 3D product.
Stuart Harting, chairman of the Haddonfield Outdoor Sculpture Trust, first was introduced to Wing when the organization installed the Refugee from El Salvador piece two years ago, when the latter tagged along to help the artist install the piece.
Harting said he was well aware the public needed an opportunity to return to the downtown area with the holidays over and wanted to provide the pandemic-weary community a prime chance to shake off the winter blues. So he called Wing two months ago to see if he would come to town and ply his trade, and the artist accepted.
Wing is based out of West Philadelphia, but that’s not where he learned how to make some of the kindest cuts.
“Many people start in culinary school, and that’s really the only professional training you can get, if you start there. If you study as a chef and learn in a kitchen,” he revealed.
His first ice carving occurred in a usual location — Fairbanks, Alaska — almost a quarter century ago, at the world ice art championships.
“That block of ice was 8 feet tall,” he recalled. “So I jumped in at the deep end. That was a two-point-five day carving. And then I stayed on and did a five-day carving out of multiple blocks.”
Wing’s acumen was rewarded handsomely last year in China, where he was one of a small group of international carvers who joined native Chinese and people living in the country in a carving competition. He and his Chinese teammate, worked on both an ice carving and a giant block of snow, which took about two-and-a-half days to complete, and took home a gold medal.
To find out more about Wing and his art, visit: www.rogerwing.com. More information about HOST can be found at: https://haddonfieldsculpture.org/.