SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- When acclaimed sculptor and Academy of Art University School of Fine Art Sculpture Director Peter Schifrin participated in the 1984 Olympics, he would have never guessed his teammate would commission a monumental sculpture from him nearly 25 years later. But that is exactly what happened. Full Sky, a soaring bronze figure reaching 20 feet high, punctuates a soul-stirring 360-degree hilltop view in a remote upstate New York landscape. The work invigorates universal, raw energy by its testament to the simplicity of the human form.
Full Sky is also a testament to the power of art to not only compliment, but to brilliantly elevate already spectacular architecture. In rural Dutchess County, NY, the award-winning architecture firm Thomas Phifer and Partners designed an ultra-modern home, creating a magnificent observation post to the surrounding untouched nature. After seeing Schifrin’s recently published monograph love & fear, along with Schifrin’s reputation for creating soaring and compellingly personal sculpture commissions in California, the client asked Schifrin to visit his “farm.” As the visionary for this unique property, the patron, who prefers to remain anonymous, asked Schifrin “to create moments of calm, wonder, and beauty” for a landscape he loves, adding, “the rest is up to you.”
Through the yearlong commission process, Schifrin was assisted by two Academy of Art University School of Fine Art Sculpture students Ah Young Jeon and Zachary Roberts, who received course credit towards their fine art degree. AAU student Alexander Toy and AAU alumnus Tom Patella also aided Schifrin in the final stages of production. With a nod to the clean, geometric forms of the home’s architecture, Schifrin created a human form that emotively embraces the visual harmony of symmetry coupled with imperfect human qualities. Full Sky reveals physical evidence of Schifrin’s active sculpting techniques, simultaneously honoring the living human energy within us all. These elements include the unrefined, in-process marks used to create the work in clay, which Schifrin showcases in the final bronze form. “I love the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi: perfectly imperfect,” says Schifrin. “I believe we are all flawed and yet perfect in our imperfection. Full Sky captures this human predicament.”
In close proximity to the client’s home, Full Sky literally frames the boundless view of the sky with outstretched, welcoming arms, and an intriguing small figure placed high atop one hand. The implications for significance in a work that will outlive many generations to come are endless. As Peter Morrow Meyer, the landscape architect for the 250-acre site shares: “[The] work is spectacular. It evokes a very spiritual sense upon arrival and lends something truly distinctive to the space that had not yet existed.”
The Full Sky project also gave Schifrin the opportunity to reflect on the intersection of his private commission work with his role as a teacher and mentor at the Academy of Art University’s distinguished School of Fine Art Sculpture: “Over the past few years, I have been fortunate to work professionally with numerous students from AAU. They are so well trained and have such excellent discipline. It is lots of fun and truly an honor to create and problem solve with them.”
Schifrin’s next opportunity to collaborate with an Academy of Art University Fine Art Sculpture graduate is just around the corner. Schifrin has invited recent MFA alumnus and current AAU Site Specific Public Sculpture Instructor David Duskin to accompany him back to Dutchess County. Together as artistic partners, Duskin and Schifrin will create a new sculpture proposal for the same patron. Schifrin has succeeded in achieving the loftiest goal of any artist: to have someone invest their personal resources in instilling their viewpoint and artistry into the most personal of spaces. In the words of the client, a person who knew Schifrin as not an artist, but an Olympian, “Full Sky is truly inspiring and utterly beautiful.”