Jaws Of Steel

Next month, the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod (AFCC) will host its annual Winter Art Exhibit at the Cotuit Center for the Arts (Jan 12 – Feb 23). The AFCC’s mission is to support, promote, and celebrate the arts and culture of Cape Cod in order to sustain a vibrant, diverse and strong arts community. The Winter Art Show, with this year’s theme being Bon Appetit!, focuses on younger arts patrons and displays all pieces at a height of 4 feet throughout the exhibit – right at children’s eye level. Some of the artists themselves will also drop by to discuss their works with local students as they tour the exhibit.

Growing up in New England and now a metal sculptor living on Cape Cod, I’m drawn to the ocean and it’s secret world beneath the surface. Sharks, in particular, capture my imagination with their beauty, power and speed. These apex predators, at the top of the ocean’s food chain, help to regulate the populations of species below them. And sometimes their diet can even be quite unconventional! Thus with a shark in mind, I set out to create a piece for this year’s Winter Art Exhibit.

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With the theme of Bon Appetit!, I was immediately drawn to the idea of creating a shark sculpture with a view into its stomach to show what it had recently eaten. I am also a huge fan of Jaws and can’t count the number of times I’ve watched the movie. The epic story of man vs. beast is truly timeless and Spielberg and the cast created such a cinematic masterpiece that touches and tickles every human emotion. One scene, in particular, immediately came to mind given the intention of my piece. Of course, the scene is when Matt Hooper and Chief Brody, after a good amount of wine, decide to go down the dock in the middle of the night to cut open the shark caught earlier that day.

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Their intention was to see if the Kintner boy was in fact killed by this shark. They proceeded to cut the shark open and, as a foul smelling white fluid poured out on to the floor, empty the contents of the shark’s stomach. Along with some half eaten fish, they found some unusual items such as tin cans and even a license plate as Hooper says, ”Just like I thought, came up in the Gulf Stream from Southern waters.” To which the Chief replies, “He didn’t eat a car, did he!”

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So I created my shark sculpture with a view into its stomach and placed a variety of items including a fish skeleton, a spring, a playful octopus arm attempting to escape its prison, and of course an exact replica of the Louisiana license plate shown in Jaws!

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I just received word that my piece ‘License To Eat’ has been invited to exhibit at the 2019 Winter Art Show and I’m very excited to see the reactions from both the young and old visitors. I wonder how many will pick up on the Jaws reference!

Words and images by Rachel Paolino, founder of Welding Creations

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