Large red steel beam outdoor sculpture.

John Henry
b. 1943 Lexington, KY; lives and works in Tampa, FL
Meridian, 2003
Painted steel
22 x 25 x 15 feet
Accession date: 2009
Gift of Barbara A. and Barry M. Meltzer
Copyright the artist

Meridian is the first work of its scale in a series entitled “Cathedral,” a group of works inspired by John Henry's visit to the ruins of San Galgano, Italy. His examination of these ruins prompted experimentation with the creation of the towering-heights of cathedral-like enclosures through the use of large slabs of steel. Meridian also builds on the concept of a singular independent structure, which has formed much of his life’s work and range in size from sitting on a table top to colossal outdoor works. Soaring 22 feet into the air, it is an apt title of Meridian that he gave to this work.

Henry’s limited and precise aesthetic is based in the early-20th century movement, Constructivism­–­­­­a sculptural practice of creating with geometric elements and prominence placed on the space the elements occupy as opposed to the mass of the objects. His is a study not only in the beauty of the materials, shapes and primary colors, but also of scale and equilibrium as the various parts interact with each other and through tension hold the whole sculpture in place. Wielding welded steel or aluminum, either painted in a bright monochromatic color or left to the natural patina, for over 40 years Henry has defied gravity and stops motion on one of the grandest of scales attempted by any artist.