Steel Ribbon and Driftwood by Robert McWhirter

Invasive Species, steel ribbon and driftwood sculpture  by Robert McWhirter

Origin of “Invasive Species”, steel and driftwood sculpture

“Invasive Species” was an idea of combining natural building materials with completely unnatural materials to produce something fluid and unique. After receiving excellent feedback from the Steel Ribbon series at Faiweather’s, Robert McWhirter, who was introduced as an emerging artist (read more about Robert on our blog posts dated Sept. 04, 2014 and Sept. 15, 2014), entered a piece into the Winter All Juried Art exhibition by Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson, curator of Northwest Art at the Portland Art Museum. Over 300 works of art were submitted with less than 40 making the finals, Mc Whirter’s steel ribbon was one of works of art that were selected.

In the artist’s words:
“On the night of the artist’s reception, a window opened to approach Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson and press some questions. Two words were taken away from the conversation, go bigger.

The beach was the next stop. There is no better place to appreciate the feeling of the coast, alone, surrounded by wind, waves and wildlife. Nearing a full load of driftwood, preparing to call it a day then two bald eagles flew in from nowhere, circled overhead before gliding. The lightbulb went off.

The intent was (with no pun intended) to simply wing it. Let the shapes and lines of the wood create the body of the sculpture, let the steel create the flow. Fabrication was a slow and at times extremely tedious effort, however without a proper name to complete the vision and motivation, it was not complete.

As said earlier, there’s almost nothing better than being alone on a beach with wind, waves and wildlife. The impact of human presence is abundant; fishing gear, wrappers, bottles and cans strewn about the beach. All brought in locally and from overseas by the tides; a dramatic reminder that majority of the human population contributes to the trashing of the environment.

Scientists have estimated 90 percent of all shorebirds have plastic in their stomachs. Oceanic pollution is at an all-time high with no relief anywhere in sight. Human products enveloping and overtaking nature, steel overtaking wood. What are the real Invasive Species? We are.” –Robert McWhirter

And, too, Robert McWhirter returned in a special encore appearance during Fairweather’s COLLECTIVE ENERGY opening reception on September 05, 2015 to lecture about his incredible artistic journey.


Q: How do we find the artists that show at Fairweather’s, you ask?

A: Here is a word-for word narrative: “My wife and I have been in your gallery and I would love to have some of my work presented, if you are looking for new local artist. I am a welder by trade (you may remember speaking with my wife and I almost a year ago). After talking with you, I have created some work using unique wood found in the northwest and combining it with handmade steel work. We would love to show you the pieces, if you are interested. I look forward to hearing back from you.” Robert McWhirter –August 2014.

“The best building materials are all around us, they just need to be found” – Robert McWhirter.

And, so it goes forward:

Congratulations, Robert McWhirter! You are no longer an emerging artist…you have become are a renowned artist!!!

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