“The Sky Is the Limit”: A Conversation between Richard Hunt and Jordan Carter

Jordan Carter, Art Institute of Chicago, September 17, 2019

Curators Jordan Carter and Ann Goldstein worked with legendary Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt on a new installation for the museum’s Bluhm Family Terrace.


During a earlier visit to the artist’s Lincoln Park studio, Carter and Hunt discussed the monumental work that is the centerpiece of the now-open terrace installation, Hunt’s artistic process, and his decades-long career as one of the leading sculptors of our time.


Jordan Carter: Richard, I thought we could start with your upcoming exhibition, Richard Hunt: Scholar’s Rock or Stone of Hope or Love of Bronze. That title—which is so evocative and poetic—derives from the central piece in the installation, one that you started in around 2014. Could you talk about the work, its title, and how it reflects your process?


Richard Hunt: So there are many things. The material for that piece is largely material that I got from Revere Copper & Brass. For many years, I’d been getting sheets of bronze to do my sculptures. But at that point in time, six years ago, I got word that Revere was not going to roll any more sheets of bronze. So I got this material that, unlike the sheet, is material that would get caught up in the rolling process—what they call drops, or scraps. So the Love of Bronze is something that came to mind because on one of those crumpled pieces of metal that I got, the person at Revere had written, “Love you, 655.” Now 655 is a number for the different alloys of bronze. Because you can say “bronze,” but there’s bronze that has more tin or zinc, some more copper, et cetera. 


Also I’ve been interested in rock formations; around the time [I started making this sculpture] I had been to China and seen some of the gardens there with the scholar’s rocks. And then the Stone of Hope part of it refers to the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington. So the title—probably the longest title of any of my sculptures—refers to various things that I was thinking about as I started to make the work and what it’s come to be out of that material.

Jordan: That’s really so amazing. I can’t help but think about how the work brings together so many associations globally and also across so many different disciplines: This idea of seeing a scholar’s rock in China and having that meet with this idea of an American Civil Rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr. And the idea of the Stone of Hope, which right now is of course so incredibly poignant and relevant, but then positioning it all so specifically within its materiality and within the site in which you’re working in Chicago.


of 1020