Sculptor turns connecting rods, engine parts into works of art - Introducing Metal artist Steve Culp
I was recently asked to photograph these works by Steve Culp. I was aware of his interest in aircraft. I knew he was a pilot and restored planes and had even, just recently, learned that he'd won numerous flying competitions, I had no idea about the extent of his metal-working skills. I'd been told that he worked on motorcycles planes, but not that he designed and built his own bi-planes—from scratch. I've since learned that he'd completely restored many fine classic and racing autos from the ground up.
These are pieces from a group he's produced recently with special historic car and motorcycle parts and miscellaneous other things he's found elsewhere and melded them into these fanciful creatures that seem like they might have evolved on some strange mechanical planet.
These aren't plumbing and appliances bolted together into robots. While some seem derived of Earth creatures, they depart with such whimsy, there's just no way to easily associate them with the one's we know on our planet.
Beyond an initial response, detail after detail draws one into features noticably similar to jewelry as he's introduced the use of contrasting polish against texture and fantastic iridescent hues in the surface of the metals. Even Steve's welds go beyond merely joining parts and serve to invent texture and are even used alone to add embellishment to associate different areas to each other.
There are some parts one might recognise, for example, tarty bird's clearly wearing some ginchy old lady's glasses, dog fella is really a copper fire extinguisher and machinists might be able to point out specific engine parts and such, but over all, they get lost in the identity and humor of the piece.
It isn't often that I have the opportunity to photograph a body of work crafted with a character and level of ingenuity equal to these. Add the good natured confidence of the artist, who's already proven himself, engineering serious projects dependent on functional design, yet able to apply the same level of creativity to objects like these, intended for pure enjoyment and I'm pleasantly reminded of the the excitement I experienced in my early successes as I learned to operate my first camera.