Sextant Yoke 2000
Artist: Mike Baur (American, b. 1951)
Materials: cast concrete, steel
Provenance: Gift of Lila Hensley in memory of Dr. James Harvey Hensley, Community Professor 1981-2001
Mike Baur completed his BFA in sculpture after suffering through the loss of his studio to a tornado during his senior year at Arkansas State University. He continued his education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, completing an MFA in 1976. The artist lives in West Chicago, Illinois. He creates sculpture at a wide variety of scale, from table top to monumental.
Sextant Yoke reflects Mike Baur's interest in using materials which show evidence of their history, not only in the rough-hewn and hardscrabble edges that characterize the concrete he often employs, but the manner in which his sculpture proudly displays its slow decay. That the work is reminiscent of an artifact, " . . . things no longer intact and functional, that were pulled up, dug out of the ground" is intended.
Often his objects are deceptively simple, pared to a formal essence that carefully balances hand-wrought and machined form. There is nothing withheld from the viewer—what we see is what the artist intended. His work is a straightforward orchestration of shapes, texture, age, and subtle coloration and he asks the viewer to observe and appreciate it as such.
The title, Sextant Yoke, directs the viewer's attention to its association with astronomical measuring devices. A sextant is a measuring device with which mariners would find their position on the ocean. The sculpture’s soaring steel beam was coaxed into its present form by the artist using a cold bending process. The cast concrete pedestal demonstrates Baur's attention to detail with its trapezoidal shape, layered surface texture, and voids which open and close, depending on the viewer’s position.