Capture, Charlie Bryant

In this project, I sculpted an orca out of soap and molded my hands with alginate. My two pieces interact through my hand seemingly to grasp at the fleeing whale, which is much smaller than the god-like outstretched fingers. This idea came from recents events that have come to light about the captivity of orcas at places such as Sea World. The Orca “Tilikum” died just weeks ago, who inspired the documentary “Blackfish” which looks into the treatment of these intelligent mammals at sea parks and his two killings of trainers. He died at the age of 36, a common age for orcas in captivity yet only about a third of the lifetime of wild orcas. Through this project, I had hoped to make people aware of the chase down and trapping of these magnificent creatures that were born to roam oceans, not ponds. My whale has a tall dorsal fin, as 99% of wild orcas do yet 100% of those in captivity have slumped fins. Orcas may weigh over four tons, yet our actions do influence in the length and quality of their lives.


I had always been into animals, especially orcas because in my mind they are the most powerful creatures in the world. In my sculpture, I wanted to capture the beauty that I had always viewed them with. I started by sketching the orca on rectangles proportional to the soap and then carved those sketches onto the soap as an outline. First, I had carved out huge chunks because most of the soap I would not use and I could make a general outline. This proved to be a problem for me, as I was too excited and wanted to carve out the same amount of soap every work period. This led me to rush and end up cutting off the tail of my first project. But, progress comes with trial and error and I learned that as I moved farther to my final piece, I must become more meticulous with my carving. The contortion of the back of the orca contributes to my idea of it swimming away from the giant hand, fins outstretched and the tail seemingly about to push down and push the animal forward. Initially, I had wanted the fingers of the hand to stand as bars trapping the orca. I could not however make my hand stand freely because my mold was not exactly what I had imagined. But, the idea of us coming over them still works and gives the sense that we have power over their lives. Although, the fingers encasing the whale may better represent the fact that humanity has already trapped these animals and is having negative effects on it. The chasing hand does fit well with the non-slumped dorsal fin and the orca being in motion as well as almost encasing the orca so it was not a huge setback. If I had gotten to change my final piece, I would touch up on the paint job and the black marks that smudged my hand. Also, because of the tail falling off in the first carving, I was hesitant to make the back end of the body skinnier, which would’ve made the depiction more accurate. All in all, I think this was a successful project, depicting my message of humanity overpowering orcas, that taught me lessons in making mistakes and patience as well.

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