“Indigo Animal” and “Dame Eleanor Marmot” Sculptures Installed at the Orinda Community Center

(Elana O'Loskey, Photographer)
(L-R) Author and artist Rue Harrison and her assistant for this project Jessica Jordao, with “Indigo Animal” and “Dame Eleanor Marmot” sculptures, newly installed at the Orinda Community Center, 28 Orinda Way on Feb. 14.

    If you stroll by the Orinda Community Center, you can’t miss two recently installed members of the existing artistic menagerie in front of the building. A bright blue 650 lb. seated, 5’ tall tapir-like mammal, “Indigo Animal” and a much smaller brown animal, “Dame Eleanor Marmot” have taken up residence. Spend a moment welcoming these two beloved characters to their new home. They meandered from the pages of Oakland author Rue Harrison’s richly illustrated book, Indigo Animal: The Complete Trilogy via John Toki’s sculpture studio.
    About two and a half years ago, Harrison and her husband visited Toki at his Richmond studio when he proposed the idea of building a large-scale Indigo Animal using ferrocement. Readers may remember Toki as the creator of two ceramic sculptures in front of the Orinda Community Center: “Springtime Spirit” and “Blue Back #2.”
    An armature was created with welded steel rods (rebar) to create Indigo Animal’s shape. Harrison used large eyed needles to sew chicken wire together using steel wire as the thread. The chicken wire was then sewn to the armature. Next, a scratch coat of stucco was applied to cover the armature, shaping the sculpture. An applied coat of pigmented stucco provided the finished product, a ferrocement sculpture. It stands on is galvanized steel base coated with paint using a special process for purposes of durability. The sculpture is connected to the base with internal steel rods for safety and added strength.
    You may notice Indigo’s colorful blanket and something Dame Eleanor Marmot is holding. It is a fragment of an ionic column which hints at the shared love both she and Indigo have for all things classical. Both Harrison’s book and the two sculptures are interesting to begin with, but as you become better acquainted with both, interest easily turns into an enigma: Harrison insists that Indigo Animal – as a character – always appeared to her as gender neutral. So, we are enjoined to think about Indigo using the pronouns “they” and “their.”
    Harrison sees all 320 pages of her book as an “interior journey,” to be started and stopped wherever you, the reader, land. The first page states the reason for Indigo’s quest: “Every morning, Indigo Animal wonders, ‘What’s my purpose in life?’” Harrison, who is also a psychotherapist in private practice, says the book uses active imagination (a la Carl Jung) to tell the story. Her imagination is certainly active, as you will find 360 full color illustrations in the book. It can be found by emailing the author at ruewhit@gmail.com or at www.gurdjieffbooksandmusic.com/product-page/rue-harrison-indigo-animal.
    Harrison wishes to expresses her gratitude to a host of helpers who brought Indigo Animal and Dame Eleanor Marmot into being: John Toki for the idea and help at his studio where she learned about ferrocement; Jessica Jordao, who was a stalwart helper from start to finish; and Martin Rickert, Ying Ling Lin, Andrea Brower, and Andrea Hendrickson.

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