Infinite Art: This Decatur sculptor joins math and fine art to inspire his community

If you spend more than five minutes in Curtis Delk Rose’s studio, you’ll soon find that everything in it has a story. The walls of his garage-turned-workspace are covered floor to ceiling with them.

There’s the Bob Dylan wall with album covers, posters, and art of the famous singer. There’s the purple themed section, which contains all three volumes of Rose’s poetry. There’s photos of him as a soldier; there’s photos of him as a hippie. There’s a photo of the time he got baptized, and a poster for the poetry show he hosted in Tennessee. And of course, there are sculptures. Tons and tons of sculptures.

You might say that everything in Rose’s studio is a symbol for something that happened in his life. And Rose, a sculptor in Decatur, loves symbols.

Rose makes his sculptures at his residence in Decatur where he converted his garage into a workshop.

A self-proclaimed “symbolist,” Rose has used his skills as an artist and woodworker to create symbolic representations of his beliefs and values as an artist. He shares these expressions with his community every summer in Decatur’s annual Sculpture Tour, which brings dozens of local and national sculptures to the city’s streets. 

Rose has participated in the Decatur sculpture tour for 8 years, and he says that this year’s piece, which was unveiled on June 14th, is his “most spiritual” to date.

As a wood sculptor, he mainly works with the Möbius band concept, and if you don’t know what that is, Rose will gladly explain it to you.

The Möbius band is a math concept meaning an object that has a single surface and single edge, but is never-ending. Sort of like a 3D figure eight.

This is the first Möbius band sculpture Rose ever made. Since then, he has made more than 1,000 with a similar concept.

Even though he only started creating these sculptures at age 40, Rose estimates he has made close to 1,100 pieces.

“I believe that I have been given a gift for the sculptures I do in wood,” he says.

Despite making so many, Rose can still vividly remember the first sculpture he ever made.

When he was serving in the Vietnam war as an army photographer, he became interested in the counter-culture movement. He longed to become a hippie, and when he came back, he did.

He began to frequent head shops, which featured posters of art by M.C. Escher—an artist Rose says was popular among the hippies. One such poster featured red ants crawling along what looked like a figure 8, and Rose was immediately drawn to it.

“That fascinated me,” he says. “And finally, I learned that it was based on the Möbius band concept, and that became very interesting to me.”

Rose talks about some of his other pieces in his personal workshop. This sculpture was made from a tree root.

This fascination stayed with Rose, to the point that he and his wife, Diane, commissioned an artist to make a Möbius band sculpture as a wedding gift. Rose came to watch the piece as it was being made, and the artist even gave him a small block of wood for his own sculpture someday.

Rose took the piece of wood with him, but it was 17 years before anything ever happened to it. He always kept it around, though, and it became the thought that was always in the back of his mind.

“I’m thinking one day, ‘You know, I’ve had that block of wood sitting around in the different garages where I lived at,’ and stuff like that,” he says. “Someday, I’m going to do something with it.”

Rose’s workshop contains many woodworking tools, as almost all of his pieces are constructed out of wood.

So he went to the hardware store, bought a drill, and carved it into his very first Möbius band sculpture, which sits in his office to this day. That was the beginning of Rose’s journey working with this concept, and more than 1,000 Möbius bands later, you could say it paid off.

Rose is now an active member of Decatur’s growing art scene. He makes all of his pieces from his studio in his Magley, Indiana home, which is just outside of Decatur. Apart from being featured in the Decatur sculpture tour every year for 8 years, his pieces have been showcased in local galleries, like ACE 40.8 in Decatur, and in Artlink in Fort Wayne. He has even made a sculpture for Fort Wayne’s sister city in Taizhou, China.  

Many of Rose’s pieces are derived from the Möbius band concept, meaning there is no place where they stop or start.

His most recent sculpture in the 2019-2020 Decatur Sculpture Tour is titled “8-EIGHTY-8,” combining his belief that eight is God’s favorite number with his quintessential Möbius band.

As someone who practices the Christian faith, Rose says God has helped him through some of the most difficult times in his life. In a way, the sculptures he makes are a physical illustration of God, he says.

“A Möbius band is a symbol of something that has no beginning or end,” Rose explains. “It’s the only thing in the math world like that. As a believer, if you’ve been a believer all your life, you know God is the only thing in the universe that has no beginning and has no end.”

Visit the Decatur Sculpture Tour

See Rose’s sculpture and others on display around downtown Decatur now through April 2020. Visit www.decatursculpturetour.com for details.

Curtis’ website: https://touchingtheimpossible.com/?fbclid=IwAR3C34bmv6dLeWQgssHQBQGdQ0Znuqn7rh0o6aPNwG6od3R7Z-DTmT7sBYc

Read more articles by Samantha Nower.

Samantha Nower is a student journalist from Decatur, Indiana. She is currently attending Ball State University, pursuing her passion for writing and studying to become a journalist full-time. She loves her community and believes the biggest stories can often be found in even the smallest of towns. You can find her on Instagram @samanthanower.
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