10 Amazing Pieces of Art Made By One Person
Many artists are hindered by the idea that they need other peopleâs cooperation to make their masterpieces. But the people in this list were not held up in such a way. In fact, in some of these cases, they actually needed to be the only person working on their pieces of art, for practical or philosophical reasons. The artists vary greatly in nature, levels of success, and appealâbut what they all have in common is an immense amount of heart.
Starting in 1958, road inspector Nek Chand of Chandigarh, India, spent eighteen years keeping a surprisingly visible and beautiful secret. Using only discarded pieces of masonry and other garbage he found in a nearby dump, he developed his ârock gardenâ from a small pile of trash into a twelve acre array of statues, walkways, and walls.
The act was completely illegal, because it was on a public nature reserveâbut it was such a winning display that following its 1976 discovery, people used themselves as human shields to prevent bulldozers and the like from demolishing it. The park still stands today, having been essentially adopted by India as a national treasure (and being visited by an average of 5,000 visitors a day.)
Nina Paley was a New York-based animator going through an ugly divorce, when she stumbled upon the Ramayana, a Hindu epic. The unhealthy relationship of the gods Ramaya and Sita resonated with Paley, and so she spent five years writing, animating, and directing her eighty-two minute, private epicâall from her home computer.
Despite myriad copyright problems that came up with the music, and considerable anger from both left- and right-wing groups in the Hindu community, the movie managed to get worldwide distribution and a positive critical reception which included such celebrity opinion-makers as Roger Ebert.
Inspired by the copyright problems, Paley has made the movie free to view online.
Some took issue with the fact that the characters were all anthropomorphic animals (feeling that it made them part of a fetish group called âfurriesâ), or with the fact that the second lead character, Fidget, was annoyingâbut there was little denying that the animation and fight programming was top of the line, even without bearing in mind that it was all done by one guy.
Claiming divine inspiration from thirty years of dreams, beginning in 1959, Aba Defar has constructed four churches in Ethiopia. Well, he hasnât so much constructed them as … carved them. Out of rock. With pick axes. Theyâre definitely austere in design, measuring about sixteen by thirty-two feet (5m by 10m) with four pillarsâbut they will easily outlast many conventionally-made, more decorative churches.
Speaking of more decorative pieces of religious art, check out Leonard Knightâs massive painting in Niland, California. Itâs three stories tall, one hundred feet (30m) wide, and came into existence in 1985. After four years, the first attempt collapsedâbut 100,000 paint gallons later, it managed to remain standing, despite public protests that a religious work should not be allowed on public land. In recent years, Leonard Knight has become too feeble to maintain the installation, and a public effort to preserve the many sayings and murals of Salvation Mountain is underway.
While Nina Paleyâs feature length Sita Sings the Blues used some clever and corner-cutting flash animation for her story, former Disney animator Phil Nibbelink went with much more old-fashioned cel animation for his retelling of Shakespeareâs famous tragedy.
With 112,000 frames drawn on his home computer, the movie more or less captures the feel of a lesser Don Bluth filmâright down to the fact that critics hated it, while audience reaction was lukewarm. Still, being a one-person project from an era which saw the release of the likes of Doogal and Delgo, its $463,000 gross makes it seem like a relative gold mine.
As Scott Weaver describes in the above video, his toothpick sculptureâwhich he personally spent thirty-five years working onâmight not be the worldâs largest; but the others donât exactly allow a ball to be rolled through them. Including an international array of 100,000 toothpicks, Scott Weaver will be putting it on display in San Francisco in April 2013.
Stop-motion, an extremely dated and time consuming but still somewhat popular technique, was director Christine Cegavskeâs method of choice for thirteen years when she made this 2005 film. Â Itâs a dialogue-free story about a collection of small crow-rat hybrids whose doll is stolen by villainous white mice.
Itâs every bit as oddâand quietly creepyâas that implies. Nevertheless, it received very favorable reviews from such publications as the New York Times and Variety. One anecdote from behind the scenes that simply must be told is that Cegavske once walked into her studio only to find all of her dolls gone; eventually she learned that her mother had thrown them all away. Mothers never do quite understand.
This array (built by James Hampton) wasâlike the churches in Ethiopiaâinspired by dreaming. Hampton was a janitor, who made this secret tribute to God during his off-hours over the course of fourteen years. The enormous art collection discovered after Hamptonâs death was subsequently judged to be worthy of a Smithsonian Display.
The subject of a 2011 documentary, Simon Rodiaâs seventeen towersâwhich took thirty-three years to buildâmight merely seem to be dangerous pieces of junk. In fact, Rodia did build them partly from junk, like Nek Chand did his rock garden.
The towers were for a time marked by the city of Los Angeles for demolition; they were considered unsafe, especially since the tallest of them reaches one hundred feet (30m). But stress tests were performed, and these revealed that the towers were more than strong enough to be allowed to remain standingâand so they were. In 2011, the New York Times reported that there had been trouble raising the support needed to maintain the towers, tourism and public support being limited both by their eccentric nature and by the fact that theyâre in the L.A. equivalent of an obscure area.
Dustin Koski, by contrast, needed help from Caroline Evans to finish the book Six Dances to End the World.