In these sculptures, I manipulated religious and humanist aesthetic constructs to produce two artificial altars: an altar for projection and one for self-reflection. I also synthesized the aesthetics of physical media forms thought to be obsolete with industrial materials to emphasized the impact of technological advances on ideas of human individuation and self-knowledge.
Digital 18:05:80 signals at the vulnerability and power of seminal post-punk signer and lyricist Ian Curtis of the band Joy Division. It portrays Curtis' face entranced and seamlessly emerging from a 9.70" x 6" x 1.75" matte white cold-cast porcelain solid in the proportions of the golden mean.
This is the second in the Musical Muses Series and the follow-up to Half a Person: A Morrissey Effigy. Concept, design, hand-casting and finishing by Derrick Cruz. Sculpture by Sean Burford
BUSES, MALLS AND INTERCOMS or HOW I FOUND JOY DIVISION
I've been a Joy Division fan for most of my life. It's difficult to put into words what they triggered in me, which is why I make art rather than write, but I'll try.
You see, I grew up in a little coastal town in 80's Puerto Rico. We had one record store, and if you didn't like Salsa music all you were going to get were some top 40 and 70's arena rock LPs. My salvation: school soccer trips to San Juan which included a stop at the mall food court. The moment our bus stopped I jetted directly to the Sbarro for a slice, chugged an Orange Julius and made an unsanctioned break for the mall record shop. Once there, I'd dig and flip until I heard my name over the intercom. All I wanted was something to speak to me, something to expand the small world that never fully satisfied me.
On one of those trips, after Belinda Carlisle…Debbie Gibson…Whitney Houston, I slowly pulled out a heavy white record simply printed "NEW ORDER Substance 1987". I remember thinking, "I don't know what this is, but I'll take one!" I wore it out in about a week. I'd honestly never heard anything like it before. It appealed to everything I desired: introspection, sharp beats and riffs, and a sober irony. That next trip to the mall I skipped the racks and went directly to the shop counter. With their five-pounder text-only catalog balance in hand I pointed to a page and said , "I'd like to order Brotherhood by New Order." To which the store clerk replied, "Have you heard the band they were before?" Enter Unknown Pleasures.
I’ll confess, at first it was difficult to comprehend, if not listen to. The cover art was an easy sell, but the the music was heavy. I felt reluctantly launched into a septic and industrial future where every emotion was being openly narrated. This "other singer" made me uncomfortable. His commands were aggressive, not vague and playful like what I thought I heard in New Order. This music marched with a buildup to an explosion that was never going to happen. It felt, for lack of a better word, very real. So, with my khaki green 80's Koss headphones on, I habitually laid on my cold bedroom floor to listen, as if forced, until I became disoriented into a kind of self-analyzing trance. This upgrade in emotional and poetic maturity mixed with sound abstraction and aggression was becoming more than entertainment to me. And sometimes I'd think, "who needs this feeling?" But I couldn't stop listening.
I'm still listening. Joy Division changed what I expected from music and even art. And judging from the staying power of their small catalog, the droves of bands influenced by their sound, and the visual impact of Peter Saville's design work, perhaps you've felt something similar. Personally, I think Ian Curtis' lyrics and the musical collision-course they came in helped me to grapple with some necessarily dark and basic human emotions. It's a violent sincerity that I still find useful. With DIGITAL 18:05:80 I'd like to pay tribute to that sentiment.
Inspired by the alarming mass disappearance of honeybees, The Abandoned Comb Amulet is defined by a solomonic dilemma: violently shatter and consume the object in order to remove its inner worth, or nurture the form and allow it to naturally reveal the treasure within.
The Abandoned Comb Amulet is a six hexagon 18k gold honeycomb pendant on a fine gold chain encapsulated in a three inch tall hexagonal sugar-glass pyramid filled with New York rooftop honey. The entire piece is presented and may be preserved in the included airtight glass bell jar and rubber base. Edition of 30.
The process alone renders each Abandoned Comb Amulet unique. It begins with a visit to a local rooftop hive in Brooklyn, New York. There, abandoned honeycomb is gathered from empty hives having suffered from Colony Collapse. This comb is later coated with natural shellacs in preparation for traditional “lost-wax” casting. During casting, the wax honeycomb is entirely burned away and replaced with gold. The result is a perfect 18k gold replica of the found honeycomb.
The cast piece is then reduced into arrangements of six hexagons. Each cluster is assembled onto a fine gold necklace with a bespoke clasp, thoroughly cleaned and sealed by hand in a honey-filled cast sugar pyramid.
A special thank you to The Brooklyn Bee, PapaBubble Caramels Artesans, Susanne Goetz and Austin Priebe. Still photography by Gisel Florez, black and white photo by Nadav Benjamin.
Who sang the songs that saved your life? The answer to this question is certainly not universal. Yet, for the droves of outliers who braved the plight of adolescence with a ragged "Queen is Dead" T-Shirt on their backs and a melting Walkman in hand, one ambivalent troubadour stands heroic.
Our ears perked up at his brave and fiery moans. His brainy frankness gave us the courage to flaunt our awkwardness with wild abandon. He wrote our battle hymns and we proudly took up spectacles and paperbacks for arms against the world with him. For the clumsy and shy finally had a champion, and as the records spun on we listened to his croons assured it was sufficient to be Half a Person.
Half a Person is a heroic idealization. Chest exposed, coy grin and coiffed to perfection, its only vulnerabilities are a band-aid covered nipple and a cotton wick.
This is the first in Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons Musical Muses Series.
Edition of 300
9.1 inches tall
100% hand-cast beeswax, 1.25 lb.
100% cotton wick
Concept, design, hand-casting and finishing by Derrick Cruz
Sculpture by Sean Burford
Beeswax is the only truly healthy and sustainable material that may be burned with a wick. It is a honeybee by-product and its extraction does not harm the colonies from which it is sourced. Burning beeswax puts out negative ions which consequently clean the air we breathe. It is smokeless, peculiarly long burning and naturally smells like honey.
The New York Times commissioned me to recreate their iconic Style Magazine "T" in whatever materials I was working with at the time. The result was this 18k gold and sugar glass three dimensional "T".
Small scale sculptures created for Occulter's Oliphaunt art subscription experiment. Abstraction of Joseph Beuys' America Likes Me performance. Concrete, iron, cassette recording, hay, sumi dyed cotton
Man & Viper was designed to compliment New York menswear brand The Cast. While shrouded in our consensual idea of luxury, these archetypes aim to challenge contemporary views of vise and prodigiousness.
THE GOLDEN JAW
This is a replica of a large human jaw with sculptural additions and modifications made by Derrick Cruz. It is also a tray for ashes or small valuables. Though not just for the smoker, cigarettes fit neatly in teeth cavities and cigars behind molars or across mandibular notches. Edition of 100.
24k Gold Over Solid Bronze
Natural Black Diamond
5″ × 4 1/4″ × 2 1/2"
Signed and Numbered by Derrick Cruz
Custom “Black Wood” Box
THE GOLDEN COTTONMOUTH
The Cottonmouth is a unique scarf adornment and detailed sculpture of a fictional viper modeled from memory. Edition of 100.
24k gold over solid bronze
2.25″ × 1.5″ × 1.5″
Each is marked with the artist’s initials
"If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees." – Kahlil Gibran
A box designed to preserve the precious and conceal the priceless.
Approximately 12.5" x 9" x 3.5"
Hand-oiled and "ebonized" American Maple
Spine engraving inlaid in weathered brass
Brass and vintage piano ivory inlays on cover and keyhole
Cover illustration “As Night Overtakes Day”
Interior tray contains six drawstring linen bags
Sliding hidden drawer drawer is 1" deep with a hinged top and 22k gold gilding
Includes "Sun Key" pendant on natural waxed cord
Named after the prehistoric giants, the Mammoth Razor is comprised of Alaskan Woolly Mammoth ivory, sterling silver, a masterfully restored vintage blade and a quartz Stanhope lens containing vintage micro-photography from our collection.
In respect to the exacting craft of years past, only vintage steel blades are used to produce the Mammoth Razor. Each blade is carefully chosen for its condition, quality and manufacturer’s reputation. Each blade is then restored and made shave-ready with exacting precision.
THE MAMMOTH SHEATH
The blade sheath of "scales" is hand-carved out of woolly mammoth ivory to suit its corresponding blade. The scales are secured with Australian sterling silver pins for strength and a luxurious touch.
Each razor can be personalized with a custom image in the Stanhope lens and the addition of Scrimshaw engravings on the sheath.
THE STANHOPE LENS
Hidden within the stabilizing “plug” of the Mammoth Razor lies the historically rich Stanhope lens. Designed by the third Earl of Stanhope in the 1700’s, each quartz Stanhope is a biconvex lens measuring 2-3 millimeters in diameter with a 160x magnifying power. Originally a field microscope for naturalists, its applications were broadened in the1860’s by the Parisian inventor of the micro-photograph, Rene Dagron. Thanks to Dragon, the Stanhope became a personal window to the infinite imagery that could be captured with photography. Its uses subsequently ranged from a way to smuggle important documents during wartime to a means of “safekeeping” personal erotic photos.
The 1970’s saw the end of the Stanhope production with its last production facility in Czechoslovakia. However, in 1993, renowned violinmaker Michael Sheibley of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania was introduced to an antique “picture bow” containing a Stanhope. Awed by its clarity and uniqueness, he immediately decided to revive the tradition. Today, even collectors find it difficult to discern Sheibley’s perfectly crafted Stanhope lenses from the originals.
Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons continues this meticulous tradition by gracing the Mammoth Razor with Mr. Sheibley’s highly collectible Stanhopes. Just as Dagron offered over 100 years ago, Stanhopes may be customized with any fitting image or object.
The Mammoth Razor comes in a handsome laser engraved salvaged solid-wood case and black linen drawstring sleeve. Included is a quarter ounce of Renaissance Wax, to be applied when the mammoth needs a protective coating and a polished shine.
A pendant intending to preserve the noble memory of a worker honeybee. Sterling, seven 160x Stanhope lenses with dissected honeybee parts. The honeybee was found dead in the same hive used for the Abandoned Comb.
Robert Smith will forever be the frolicking ghoul that excused me to dance wildly while brooding.
I remember the calling drums and visceral chants of songs like “Hanging Garden” moving me to teen introspection. The Cure’s punk grit and mystical arabesques masterfully set the stage for Smith's desperate vocals to entrance me. Enveloped in flanging echoes I ritually pushed the volume dial to its limits till I heard the knock on the door.
But just when darkness seemed paramount and spiderman was free to have me for dinner, Smith showed some hope. With “Love Cats" mischief and wicked grins were automatic. I was free to accept my inner gloom as a tool and not an end in itself. Which encouraged my pimply-teen self to see that "sanctioned cool" was definitely not my path, and that flailing my hands around while tripping over myself was as worthy a form of self-expression as any.
Thanks, Mr. Smith. I owe you one.
My intent with this piece was to neatly idealize Smith while capturing his youthful Pornography-era days. All of the style details that The Cure fans so fervently sought to emulate (black button-ups, tight black jeans, contrast hi-tops) needed to be there. But perhaps most importantly, his playful spirit had to be caricaturized to make one message clear: doom and gloom had a secret smirk, and Robert Smith was the archetype.
As an artist and designer I sculpt, but human likenesses aren't my thing. So, in order to find the true "soul" of the project, I needed to collaborate with a sculptor that shared my affinity towards Smith. In between days gathering source material, sketching poses and researching the perfect sneakers, I remembered the work of John Truman Tan. John's uncanny ability for capturing a character's spirit made me an instant collector of his pieces a few years back. Not only does he sculpt amazing likenesses, but he has a rare sensibility for accurately representing minute garment and tailoring details. Then there's the great quirk: John likes likes to make bobble-heads. It was the perfect medium to represent Smith.
Without hesitation, I reached out to John, found out we shared a love for all things 80's, sent him my drawings, design ideas and research, and Unhappy the Man: Robert Smith was born.
A graphic t-shirt series commemorating philosophical predictions.
Oxidized and waxed white bronze
Vegetable dyed & waxed bag
A book format designed to challenge the digital rights management model of leased media by declaring physicality the starting point of ownership and personal individuation. It is also praise for print as a technologically and politically immune vehicle for ideas.
Minimalist no-visible-stitch folio design
Hand-constructed of stoned oiled black leather
Utilitarian, for analog and digital tools