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Starship Alpha Omega

Gilded Wood Sculpture Installation at St. Michael's College.


Starship Alpha Omega sculpture by E. Thor Carlson

"The handsome sculpture is made up of gold and silver iridescent pieces built together in a roughly horizontal-diamond shape measuring six feet up and down. Crafted over ten months, the work contains 160 small tiles and 200 fretwork pieces. The resulting harmonious work suggests the complexity of language and ideas, with each tile containing a symbol from one of the world's languages, both ancient and modern."


Starship Alpha-Omega was commissioned by SMC and dedicated by the Class of 1991 to their classmate John Caswell, who accidentally drowned before graduation. It was dedicated on June 12, 1993. The gilded wood tiles were done in a technique called "pastiglia."

The sculpture hangs against the dark red brick lined stairwell of the Durrick Library at Saint Michael's College, Winooski, Vermont. It was blessed by a priest with holy water and I prayed that none of it would get onto the gilding!

The SMC Art Committee arranged for the purchase of the work of art, chaired by Patricia Slattery, human resources director.

I want to acknowledge Gregory Petrin's contribution to the project as my wood craftsperson. He crafted the fretwork frame and the individual squares [tessera] for me to model, paint and gild all these pieces. We worked at his gallery Twin Columns in Claremont where I did most of the modeling and gilding of the many parts. It was also there that I completed the two side wings of my big triptych later on.


Sculpture inspired by the poem There Is No Frigate Like A Book by Emily Dickinson.

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!



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