What screams “SUMMER” more than building a sandcastle on the beach? How about having some of the most skilled 3D artists creating life-like sculptures along coastlines with nothing but sand, water, and a few tools? What has now become an impressive, yearly tradition for many coastal towns was once a meager art form, earning most sculptors mere pennies for their behemoth muddy creations.
The Atlantic City boardwalk has been home to these works for nearly 150 years now since Phillip McCord was first thrown some coins for his hyperrealistic formation of a woman and her baby lying in the sand. Fellow artists took to the beach with him and soon the shores were crowded with these sculptures, which the designers had mixed with cement so they would last the winter. After the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, city officials banned the public usage of the beach for long-lasting art installations. To handle the surge of backlash, many towns chose to have yearly competitions instead to display the talented artists of the area.
Now, you can find these impressive tournaments across the world. Sculptors say they love it because it brings them back to their childhood, when you would just have a pail and shovel, digging a mote around a mound and calling it art.
Many artists use the natural cycle of creation and destruction to their advantage in their pieces, including a piece on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France for the White House Commission of Remembrance. The artist created a sculpture of the D-Day soldiers that would wash away with the tide. “It took away the man’s mandible first, and then he kind of slumps forward with the helmet. This guy basically died, eroded back to the sand.”
Art can be found anywhere, including in the ephemeral beauty of sea and sand. These sandy sculptures on our shores are a reminder to embrace the fun in artistry and to enjoy the brevity of creation.