This sculptor, as a kid, must’ve been building castles in the air at school! While other kids normally stop, he continued doing so, well not in the air but in the sand instead! Meet Calvin Seibert, a 57-year-old artist currently residing in New York, who claims to be a sandcastle architect…a claim adequately substantiated by his incredible sand works.
Calvin’s eye for detail and fertile imagination were quite evident as a child. Growing up in a ski resort in the Colorado mountains, there were no beaches to go to. But, such was his love for sand that he built sandcastles on the sand piles he found at neighbouring construction sites! When he stepped into his teens, he started frequenting the beach with friends, at times, for a week at a stretch.
In the 1960s he chanced upon the pictures of the French Ski resort in Flaine, a raw concrete building, designed by Marcel Breuer, a modernist architect. This ignited his imagination and he thought of becoming an architect. That’s probably when he got introduced to brutalist architecture that flourished between 1951 and 1975, a style favoured by the likes of Le Corbusier, who designed and built some marvellous buildings in India using béton brut material. This is French means raw concrete.
However, Calvin started to have strong reservations about becoming an architect. He explains why in his own words, “My relationship with physical things was much more artistic and sculptural.” Good thing, because had he chosen the architecture line, there would be no sandcastles for us to fawn over. Of course, his works, though short-lived, are no less than architectural marvels.
Calvin’s passion for sandcastles took a serious turn when he moved to New York in 1979. He joined an art school and started building sandcastles on nearby beaches, such as Coney Island. He worked as an artist’s assistant to earn some money before he decided to be on his own, building sandcastles.
Calvin took his passion to the next level by working on raw modernist designs created by architects, such as Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn and Kenzo Tange. His passion for building and structures was given a fillip by the advent of digital imagery and the internet.
This provided Calvin with an opportunity to challenge himself with complicated and complex architectural designs. His favourite location, where he loved to showcase his sculpting skills, where the public beaches of New York City. His works not only received appreciation from beachgoers but also enabled him to make some good friends.
Of course, his sand creations remain transient. Some survive till the end of the day, while others get to see the light of the next day, still, others manage to remain standing for several days. This makes him an unusual sculptor. Whereas other sculptors create works with the aim of preserving them for posterity, he’s happy to see his sandcastles get washed away by the sea waves.
In fact, at times his sculpting becomes a race against time when he can see the tide coming at his building and knows that it or the next one is certainly going to get it. This to him is sheer joy and he candidly admits, “You can’t be doing what I’m doing without getting used to loss.”This is a mark of an artist who’s truly passionate about his work.
Calvin doesn’t hold a regular job but devotes all his time to building sand castles. What’s more, he doesn’t earn any money from it but makes a neat packet selling pictures of his sandcastles for books and magazines. He also gained instant popularity on the internet, when someone posted his sandcastle pictures on Reddit from his Flickr site. He had 120,000 visitors in a day! This motivated him to become more adventurous.
Although Calvin has been building sandcastles for the past 50 years, spending thousands of hours at the beach, he wonders at times, whether he’ll be able to continue doing this physically tough activity right in his 70s. We all know the answer…this passionate sculptor certainly will!
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