A piece from Steve Tobin’s “Steelroots” series
A piece from Steve Tobin’s “Steelroots” series
Steve Tobin

“Roots: The Other Half of the Story” is this year’s theme at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and how apt that Steve Tobin’s massive root sculptures are on display. 

Tobin, internationally recognized, and a prolific and philosophical sculptor, has built a legacy of works in a wide range of materials and disciplines. He considers each of the pieces from his “Steelroots” series to be “a window into an idea.” 

He calls himself a “visual philosopher” and is proud to be self-taught, rather than having a formal education in art or manufacturing.

He shies away from the title “artist” as he shies away from naming individual pieces; although there are two pieces that have a name, “Romeo and Juliet” — with the roots just about touching, so close yet so far, frozen in time, and for all time.

Nature, and man’s relationship to his environment and to himself are an inspiration for Tobin’s work. He has said, in an interview for a previous exhibit, that he considers a piece successful when it seems to exist independent of him and his having created it.

The grounds of the Botanical Gardens are an appropriate environment for these pieces, given their subject and scale — all growing things surrounding them, as they take root. There are no pedestals for them, so they look like they are coming out of, or going into, the ground. 

These gigantic limb-like monuments speak of, I think, celebrating nature. They are something that is of our world, representing it, connected yet standing alone — symbolic.

Tobin spoke at a book signing for his new book, “Mind Over Matter.” His sculptures are on view through next May and will be “lit up” for the Botanical Gardens’ light show in December.