Derek Winstanley’s sculpture entitled, “Prehistoric Dolphin with Modern Technology”, has been chosen as the featured image for the 2008 Boneyard Arts Festival. The panel of local arts professionals, Jenny Southlynn, Joan Stolz, Kim Curtis, and Durango Mendoza, selected Winstanley’s three-dimensional piece after carefully analyzing the qualities of nearly 50 submissions. This is the first time the Boneyard Arts Festival has selected a three-dimensional piece to serve as their unifying visual theme.
Interestingly, Winstanley does not list art as his main professional interest. Climate change and water supply planning consume most of his time; in 1997, Winstanley was appointed Chief of the Illinois State Water Survey, which was founded in Champaign in 1895. The Water Survey functions on a budget of roughly 16 million dollars and 220 staff members. They conduct scientific investigations and provide services in climate, surface waters, groundwater and atmospheric deposition monitoring.
Winstanley connects his artistry with his professional interests in his artist statement: “There is the common thread between being an artist and a scientist. A research scientist creates new knowledge, understanding and order from rough material. A sculptor creates a new form from rough wood. The intensity of concentration and expression in sculpting is similar to that in conducting scientific research. The real challenge in sculpting is that it is subtractive and mistakes usually are fatal.”
“Prehistoric Dolphin with Modern Technology” is Winstanley’s most recent piece, drawing from his ‘whimsical’ style.
He explained how he came upon the creation of the piece.
“When I first came to Champaign 10 years ago, I was fascinated with lots of pieces of old farm equipment at flea markets. I bought some 30 pieces not knowing exactly what I would ever do with them and for 10 years I did nothing. In 2006 Champaign Park Department cut down some trees in Robeson Park behind our house and I rescued one of the branches. After air drying it in the garage for 12 months and looking at the pieces of farm equipment I saw the possibility of creating a dolphin – with a twist. I debarked the limb and cut out a section that had the natural curve of a dolphin as it moves through water.
“There was not much wood to remove to create the head and tail of the dolphin; I then sanded it. Two pieces of the farm equipment were ideal for forming the dolphin’s bottle nose and one for its flippers. As I had previously sculpted a series on evolution I decided to add an evolutionary touch of humor by placing barbs and spines along its back – the prehistoric component – and adding other pieces of metal equipment to create a future dimension – modern technology.
“These pieces represent a propeller and rudder, radar equipment, and GPS and navigational systems. Acorn cups and seed pods provide additional sensing equipment. To finish, I used buckeyes for the eyes. I placed the dolphin in our yard as an outdoor sculpture, rotating on a central axis on a tree stump remaining from a diseased pine tree that I cut down.”
Curated by 40 North | 88 West, The Boneyard Arts Festival, will host a plethora of artists and their wide varieties of genres and includes communities outside of Champaign-Urbana beginning on April 18 through 20. The three-day festival runs on Friday from 4 p.m. – 2 a.m., Saturday from noon – 2 a.m., and Sunday from noon – 5 p.m.