Past Exhibitions

Charles Long: 100 Pounds of Clay

Exhibition Through September 19, 2010


This spring, the Orange County Museum of Art presented 100 Pounds of Clay, an interactive installation by sculptor Charles Long (b. 1958). Originally presented at OCMA in 2001 and brought back again in 2006, this popular artwork begins its life as a minimalist sculpture made up of 100 one-pound blocks of perfectly formed, brightly-hued modeling clay, and subsequently evolves through sculptures created by museum visitors. Visitors are invited to mold, sculpt, and play with the blocks of clay, obliterating the “don’t touch” taboo of museum artwork. 

In this work Long reconsiders the modernist tradition of art by engaging museum visitors to shape the clay, which Long considers a representative material of childhood play. As each block of clay collects the imprint of every gesture, it becomes both a visual and a physical record of human contact. Museum staff provide yet another element: as the pristine blocks are transformed into sculptural forms, the staff is instructed to replenish the work with fresh blocks here and there. When the installation is over, the molded clay will be recycled and made into a new work by the artist.

Image Credits:

Charles Long’s 100 Pounds of Clay installation, 2010; collection of the Orange County Museum of Art