Monday, September 15, 2003

Big pig is 99.99 percent pure fun

Does it float? Ivory soap sculpture has passersby wondering

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Designer Bev Kirk shows off her latest creation, the world's largest Ivory Soap sculpture of a flying pig, weighing in at close to 7,000 lbs.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
Sudsie may be the cleanest pig to set foot in Porkopolis. At more than 7,000 pounds, she's the largest, too.

And she is surely the city's only smirking, winged, cradling-the-globe pig to be sculpted from a 5-foot-by-5-foot-by-6-foot bar of Ivory soap.

"People say it's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it," Sharonville artist Bev Kirk says with a wink.

After three days of using various garden tools and other objects to craft "Sudsie - a Boar of Soap" to show off Cincinnati's history as a producer of soap and swine, Kirk's arms are weary and her mood is a bit delirious.

"It was just a surreal project, so fast," she says of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce's commission of the sculpture three weeks ago. (It took two weeks for the huge hunk of soap to cure, so sculpting had to wait until Thursday.)

Kirk worked with three others - her daughter Andrea Ziemak, her friend Richard Whitehead, and Frederic Bonin Pissarro, great-grandson of French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and an instructor at the Art Institute of Cincinnati - to carve the pig using an arsenal of instruments: an edger, a spade, stainless steel wires used to slice hunks of cheese, heavy-duty ice cream scoops, melon ballers, putty knives and bottle openers.

As she stands near the work - made from the equivalent of 26,666 Ivory soap bath bars - Kirk watches people take in what may be the world's largest soap sculpture, unveiled for this week's International Economic Development Council conference at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.

Strolling by, people do a double-take. They stare, they laugh, they smell, they snap pictures and they touch - even pet - the pig.

"I just love the reactions from people - it's really interactive art," says Kirk. "People walk up to it and they just smile."

Among Kirk's favorite remarks from passersby:

• "Finally, a life-sized bar of soap."

• "What happens when you hit it with a power washer?"

• "Does it float?"

Linda Burg of Ponca City, Okla., was in Cincinnati Sunday to shop while her husband, Tim, attended the economic conference. The two had snapped pictures of pig relics around town.

"I think all these pigs are so creative, so thoughtful," Burg says. "You wonder what's going on in people's minds when they're asked to create pigs."



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