Monolithic Masterpieces

by Marion Filler

The Arts

Clyde Lynds "Buddha's Seat"


Clyde Lynds of Wallington has exhibited around the world, and now comes to the Morris Museum with a one-man show of fiber optic and concrete sculpture called "Buddha's Seat." Although the exhibit officially opens with a reception for the artist on Oct. 16, the work is already on display and attracting some well-deserved attention.

Lynds' pieces have been exhibited sporadically in group shows throughout the area, but this display has the distinction of bringing together a large number of works in a space specifically designed to hold them.

The museum's installation is simple but smashing. A blanket of dark gray covers the walls and floors. Lighting is dim to the point of darkness. Around the room stand the monoliths - vertical shafts of concrete, some close to 9 feet in height, embedded with tiny star-like specks of light.

As the lights form colorful patterns on the face of each piece, the audience watches with fascination. The patterns are choreographed to change in exact sequence as determined by a series of motorized, rotating disks hidden in pedestals that accompany and support every sculpture.

The disks, made of bands of multi-colored plastic, are illuminated by a single bulb. They transmit the tinted light through fiber optic filaments that pierce the skin of the concrete surface, transforming it into a luminous substance that belies its density.

Originally trained as a painter, and always concerned with

light, Lynds has worked within the moving fiber optic/stone format since 1982. An appreciation of the common thread of spirituality that runs through all religions has inspired this particular series of works. "Stained glass, Islamic tiles - there are ties between all of this," explains Lynds.

A visit to Lynds' studio in Wallington discloses an artist who has learned to use science as a means to an end. "I'm not interested in technology," he says, “it's just a kind of alchemy I use to turn the stone to light." But it is precisely his understanding of materials that enables Lynds to achieve such dramatic results.

Wether he is designing a stele (monolith) or an elaborate facade for a public commission, his procedure is generally the same. Meticulous design is the first step - determining the configuration of the concrete as well as the intricate patterning of light it will contain.

Among other things, Lynds has star charts in his computer and can duplicate the heavens on any given day in history for special monuments. A mold is constructed for the concrete along with a light board to which every single one of the slender fiber optic filaments is attached in precisely the right place. The concrete mixture is poured in layers, cured for two weeks, then sandblasted and carved according to plan. Simple it's not.

There are an increasing number of Lynds commissions around the world in public spaces and private galleries, but you'll only have to go to Morristown to see some of the best.


Last Updated: March 18, 2006