While Thomas Sayre is a Raleigh-based artist and architect, he has constructed works of art all over the world. To create his art, Sayre uses earth and soil from the ground where his sculptures will eventually stand to form earth casts. The three giant rings, also known as Gyre, in the NCMA Park were constructed in 1999 and have become a focal point for Museum visitors.
Thomas Sayre, Gyre, 1999, three ellipses of concrete, colored with iron oxide, reinforced with steel, and mottled with dirt residue from earth casting,overall length 150 ft. Gift of Artsplosure, City of Raleigh, and various donors
Next time you’re at the sculpture, look closer and see if you can observe evidence of the earth-casting process in the ground or on the sculptures. For example:
Walk to the ring farthest from the Museum, look down, and you’ll see a circular indentation in the ground. That is a physical remnant of Sayre’s earth-casting process.
Walk to the middle ring and face the Museum. On the outer right edge of the ring, look about halfway up, and you’ll see a perfectly round hole. That hole was used by the crane to help hoist the sculpture out of the ground and into its current location.
In this video Sayre explains his unique process of using earth to create his sculptures.
Earth casting is an affordable way of making very big things that are very strong and permanent. But more important than that, it’s a way of working whereby human intention—what I want, what I engineer—is in balance with nature, in this case the geology of the ground, which pushes back and affects the work.
Gyre's magic shifts and changes with the seasons:
Emily Kotecki is a distance learning educator at the NCMA.