White cranes in flight and other stunning monumental works by Santa Fe sculptor Kevin Box inspire contemplation, inspiration and hope. Conceptually derived from the elegant art of origami, Box’s sculptures marry this ancient art of paper-folding with age-old bronze casting techniques. Born in Oklahoma, Box graduated from New York’s School of Visual Arts and apprenticed in Atlanta and Austin foundries. In 2015 he and his wife, Jennifer Box, opened Origami in the Garden sculpture gallery on Highway 14. As they prepare for major exhibitions, the gallery is closed until 2022, but you can view Box’s work at Kay Contemporary Art.
What drew you to sculpture?
It’s probably one of the most durable forms of communication created by humanity in the last 60,000 years. Paintings have survived on stone walls inside caves, but sculpture and architecture just defend themselves. They are the most durable. My interest is in deep-time conversation, and works in stone, bronze and stainless steel have the most possibility to enter into a dialogue with humanity.
How is your passion for the environment reflected in your studio and gallery?
As an Eagle Scout and growing up as a spiritual person, my community and the environment that I live in are important to me, and I’ve always been taught to leave it better than I found it. Sculpture is not a friendly environmental practice. We have to melt metal and grind it, and we have to transport it. All of this consumes energy. I wanted to build a home and studio that offset my environmental footprint. And so, inspired by architect Ed Mazria — who enlightened me that building consumes the vast energy in our culture, not cars, trains and planes — I successfully built a one-hundred percent electric, off-grid, very capable home and studio.
What inspires you to mentor students and support community groups?
My wife and I decided not to have children. I wouldn’t call that mainstream, but if you look at the environmental impact of your life, the most profound decision is having children. The environmental impact of not having a child basically offsets our environmental footprint. Making work that educates and inspires is important, as well as donating our time and resources to local organizations that impact children’s lives, primarily through nutrition and education. We’re big supporters of ARTsmart, NDI NM, Big Brothers and Sisters, and The Food Depot. It’s how we help, and we adjust our schedules and finances to contribute to these groups because we’re not putting that towards our own children.
How does outdoor sculpture influence culture?
There are few places in the world today where a sculptor can mount a major exhibition. That’s because most of the sculpture gardens in the world are in a permanent exhibition within a museum or an institution. So botanical gardens have become the outdoor museums of the world. They’ve discovered that a six-month exhibition is a huge draw for their audience and is a way to expand their mission to connect people with plants and to educate and transform people. My mission is to transform consciousness and to inspire people. So, we share a mission of transforming and inspiring people.
What you are most thankful for in this season of gratitude?
My health, my wife and this career moment. I’m in full peak right now. I’ve got a beautiful, wonderful wife. We work together, we have a wonderful team and we’re working on a project that’s going to propel a wonderful message out in this world. We’re calling it the “Heroic Show,” and it’s for the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It will open in 2022. We’re delivering a heroic scale of new work, two to three times larger than anything I’ve done before. I’ve been keeping a little sketchbook in my pocket for twenty years of ideas I’ve been saving up. I’m getting to pull out all the colors from the crayon box, so to speak, and gather my collaborators together. We’re going to think outside the box and go somewhere we’ve never gone before in terms of botanicals, colors and scale.
Lynn Cline is the author of The Maverick Cookbook: Iconic Recipes & Tales from New Mexico. She has written for The New York Times, Bon Appétít and numerous other publications. She also hosts Cline’s Corner, a weekly radio show on KSFR 101.1 FM.