Like many sculptures, Spring Breeze can be appreciated on more than one level. There is the piece itself, its shape and energy, the interplay of lines and metals, the way it works in its surroundings. And there is the sculpture as an expression of the artist’s ideas, the way he uses metal to tell us something he wants to share.
In the case of Carroll and Spring Breeze, that something is about relationships, both the relationships people have with one another and the relationships individuals have with themselves and with their environment. The planes that Carroll manipulates, and the choices he make about their placement, take on new meaning when we realize that he’s using them to “talk” about the ways we come together and the ways we are separate. The thin vertical bands stand out when we consider that they say something about the energy that drives and sustains us.
Carroll explains other layers of meaning in his piece. With its precise and polished metals, it evokes the city’s maritime history by incorporating materials used in the shipbuilding that has dominated the local economy for generations. In addition to paying homage to the past, it also suggests looking forward and blossoming, the spring referred to in the piece’s title.
Audio Tour: Hear Carroll tell you about his piece
Hello, I’m Rodney Carroll. You’re looking at my sculpture Spring Breeze, which is at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Port Warwick. This is a wonderful location to put up an iconic piece that’s going to, in a way, represent Newport News in its history and future.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I was born in Norfolk. I went to school in Old Dominion, did my undergraduate work in sculpture there, and am from the area, so I am really proud to have a piece like Spring Breeze in the area where I grew up.
As I designed the work, there is homage to the history of Newport News in the sense that the materials, stainless steel and copper-nickel, with copper-nickel being mainly used in the shipbuilding industry, so there is a nod to the importance of the shipbuilding industry and how big that has been for Newport News.
Let me read to you a description:
Spring Breeze depicts relationships. These relationships – defined as relationships between couples, between parents and children, and within ourselves as well as our spiritual relationship and our relationship with nature. There are parallel planes representing our spirits, supporting, reflecting one another as they mutually spiral upwards. Together, yet separate. The space between the planes is folding and unfolding as these 2 planes get closer and then they move apart. The beams show the direction of energy spiraling upward, lifting, uniting the spirits with strength, balance, and foundation. Spring Breeze is about the strength of human relationships and the space and energy that unites and drives us. It rejoices in the time of spring when nature exhibits blossoming and rebirth.”
photo by Nadra Carroll
Artist: Rodney Carroll
Details: Stainless steel and bronze, 18′ tall. Made in Maryland. Installed 2001.
Site: Entrance to Port Warwick, 11800 block of Jefferson Avenue
About The Artist: RODNEY CARROLL
For Rodney Carroll, installing sculpture in Virginia is not only an artistic affirmation, it’s also an occasion for homecoming, for he was born and raised in the state. After completing undergraduate work in Virginia, he attended the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and he has lived in Maryland ever since.
While some of Carroll’s work is figurative, his signature pieces are abstract. He works with lines and shapes, arranging metals and spaces into permanent, monumental public displays, but all the while he’s exploring territory that is intangible, internal, often impermanent: human relationships. In his artist’s statement, he explains that a sculpture “may represent flight, dance, music, or architecture, focusing on how we move through space. Or, the sculpture describes a physiological moment in time as awareness and readiness. There are also bending parallel planes passing each other, pushing and pulling the surrounding space reflecting human internal and external relationships. Each element in the sculpture has a specific meaning and relationship to the other elements in the sculpture to complete the poem.”
Carroll maintains a busy schedule of commissions, installations and exhibitions. His work can be found at colleges, corporate and government facilities, cultural centers and other public places and in private collections. While many of his pieces are in Maryland and Virginia, his work is also on exhibit in North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida, New York, South Carolina, Ohio and Washington.
Carroll’s’s website: rodneycarroll.com