Lines of stretched energy

THEY stand 6 to 7 feet tall, these steel-wire sculptures whose scale alone makes them impressive, installed on a 12-foot cement wall. Their creator, Atlanta sculptor Carley Craig, stands barely 5 feet tall, and weighs less than 100 pounds. The sculptures are heavy and unwieldy. One wonders how she gets it all together. Barring slight deviations that occur from piece to piece, the technique is basically as the artist describes it: ``Placing a long rod of steel under my foot, I pull gently with both hands as I pass the rod slowly under my foot. The easy, or more dynamic, curves I attain describe the main action of the subject, be it dancer or unicorn.

``My sculpture seeks to abstract the action, or energy, of a body. No effort is made to record the physical bone structure.

``After bending lengths of steel rod to describe both main and subsidiary parts of the movement-gesture, including arms and legs, I assemble all the parts into a 6-foot or 7-foot steel `drawing.' I hold each piece at the precise angle as my assistant welds them into place.''

The completed ``shadow sculpture'' is hung 4 to 5 inches out from a wall. Properly lighted, its cast shadows become an integral part of the sculpture.

Ms. Craig's career as a sculptor evolved gradually after she first learned the disciplines of watercolor and collage. When the collages became top-heavy with textures and objects, she turned naturally to three-dimensional sculpture - a medium that allowed this free-spirited woman the flexibility to function comfortably as a creative artist.

A gentle, pervasive humor adds immensely to the appeal and ready acceptance of her work.

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