Tom Van Sant once said that Vietnam 1975 “…is a symbol of war’s aftermath, twisted metal overgrown by jungle; birds nest among the ruins unaware of previous violence. Life goes on.” The concrete base of the sculpture has become a popular resting place for students, who participate in the realization of the artist’s intent, to demonstrate the absorption of the remnants of warfare into the environment. This sculpture was commissioned by the advisors for the Louise Carlson Cultural Fund.
The material for the two main components of this sculpture came from the China Lake Naval Missile Range. The one-inch think metal had been pierced and scarred by exploding shells during practice maneuvers. In delicate contrast to the irregular and random marks of violence, Van Sant mounted a finely rendered brass dove in one of the openings and specified the planting of creeping fig to cover the metal fragments.
For 35 years, Los Angeles-based artist Tom Van Sant has executed over 60 major sculpture and mural commissions for public spaces around the world. His work can be found at the international airports of Honolulu, Taipei, and Los Angeles; civic centers of Los Angeles, Newport Beach, and Inglewood, California; and corporate centers in Taiwan, Manila, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Honolulu, and San Francisco. After earning an M.F.A. at the Otis Art Institute (today the Otis College of Art and Design) in 1957, Van Sant’s interests have included architectural design, city planning, art education, and advanced technical invention. He is also the founder of the GeoSphere Project, an ambitious environmental display system designed to illustrate the issues of earth resource management. Van Sant has had 15 one-person exhibitions in the United States, Europe, and Australia, and his work is represented in public and private collections throughout the world.