SCULPTURE “CUMULUS” BY THE ARTIST KAREN LAMONTE

Creating large-scale sculptures with the skill to know how to manipulate different materials requires great talent like that of the multidisciplinary artist Karen LaMonte.

After her graduation from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1990, Karen LaMonte launched her creative career. Initially making small-scale blown glass sculptures, LaMonte aspired to make epic sculptures, and she went to Prague on a Fullbright scholarship in 1999 to work in world-class Czech glass casting workshops.

LaMonte, a Prague based artist known for epic sculptures of her in ceramic, bronze and glass, she had long been intrigued by the clouds and now wished to use them as a backdrop for her artistic creativity.

She had a different idea for a cloud sculpture. Her intention was to find a cloud to use as a base for her sculpture and to make the weight of the sculpture equal to the weight of the original cloud.

So her research led her to email Caltech climate scientist Tapio Schneider. Who thought it was a fantastic concept.

The research focuses on minimizing uncertainties in climate change forecasts, in part by modeling the structure of clouds to help understand the effect of clouds on the atmosphere.

LaMonte believes it could help raise awareness of these issues.

There are not observations of clouds with enough three-dimensional detail to make them a sculpture, but the equations that govern clouds are understood, so the composition of clouds can be calculated.

Kyle Pressel, a Caltech research scientist in the Schneider community, collaborated with LaMonte to build the cloud simulation from which she would create her sculpture.

Pressel and Schneider ran one of the largest cloud simulations they had ever attempted in the course of five days, using a supercomputer located at a facility on the shores of Lake Lugano in Switzerland.

To achieve the best result, the project was based on a simulation of the conditions observed during the Barbados Oceanographic and Meteorological Experiment, which took place in the summer of 1969. As a result, a cloud collection worth sculpting was obtained.

Pressel explains. We had to figure out how to describe the three-dimensional surface of a cloud. Karen handled the data sets we presented very well; all I had to do was describe the edges of the cloud.

LaMonte used technology once again to transform Schneider and Pressel’s abstract cloud model into a real sculpture, “I really wanted a software program and a physical robot to really achieve weight equivalency.” The shape of the cloud was from the block of Italian marble, carved by an ABB industrial robot and its finishes were made by LaMonte.

LaMonte commented: “My cloud is baroque in its physicality”, “It looks like folds of cloth or flesh circling through space”.

Designing and sculpting life-size sculptures takes time. LaMonte had to study new technologies, such as computing and robotics, to create this sculpture in the cloud. Obtaining a wonderful result.