Monday, September 8, 2014

Hyena Project Part 3: The Sculpture

At first blush, hyenas resemble dogs with short hind legs. Upon closer inspection, the hyena's neck is longer, the face is different (especially the ears), and even the forelegs have a curious flexibility. As I welded the armature and began applying layer upon layer of clay, I found myself growing more and more fond of these subtle differences. The eyes of a hyena are also very expressive. Frankly, sculpting Frankie the Hyena turned out to be a lot of fun.

    To complete this commission I had to confront my own prejudices. What I found was a gift, for I will never look at hyenas the same way again. Now I can appreciate them for what they truly are: amazing creatures, superbly adapted to their lifestyle and habitats. 

 The life size sculpture is currently at the foundry. When cast in bronze, Frankie will stand atop a large boulder on the grounds of the Chattanooga Zoo, paying homage to a beloved resident and allowing generations of visitors to see hyenas in a new and favorable light.


  1. This is very cool, I am a supporter of wild canids- wolves, coyotes and foxes, though not specifically the hyena- I do want to see them preserved.
    I found your site via the NSS, the awards exhibition paper I received in todays' mail. as I was browsing the different works selected many of which I like, the "Vixen" bronze I found very much attracted my eyes. While I don't particularly care for your style of surface texture I thought her expression was just perfect- very soft, refined, and absolutely feminine without any doubt, a very good sculpture!

    I'm very much a traditionalist when it comes to the surface textures of animals, so, natually I always prefer a fur texture, though not that horrid thousands of "scratch lines" some artists do for commercial pieces (such as the Sandicraft dogs) to represent fur.
    I used to do standing dogs in plasticene and then cast them in bronze in the mid 90s but the foundry costs were getting high and sales pre-internet era were hard to come by.
    Last foundry I used was in New Mexico, Park's Bronze I think it was, the whole place seemed to have vanished to a bare lot according to Google's street view.
    I work with water clay only now, creating Victorian style architectural pieces.
    RD Wolff