Scrap metal, 2003
Sprouts is a sprawling weathered steel piece that is part of Tobin’s New Nature series, which evokes images of flowers, weeds, pinecones, and wreaths. Standing at 10′ x 20.5′ x 12′, it is hosted on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail (KSAT) by Lafayette College at Sullivan Trail and Bushkill Drive.
“Arranging in a triangular formation, Tobin captures a quintessence of gardening: sprouts,” says art critic Shehbaz H. Safrani. “Fragmented sections of scrap metal amazingly suggest the pleasure derived from a painstaking process of planting: growth from seed. The interpretive qualities, gardening conceived in metal, however abstract as this sculpture, are simply commendable.”
The KSAT collection of 11 sculptures by Tobin is a generous gift from George Ball of Fordhook Farms/Burpee Seed Gardens in Doylestown, Pa. The transportation and installation of the sculptures in Easton were funded by John Jaindl, VM Development Co., and anonymous donors. In addition to Sprouts, the works include Late Bronze Root (2009) and Black Steel Root (2009), also on the KSAT; Corymb Exploding (2009) and Sunflower (2003) at Hugh Moore Park; Wreath (2009) at Scott Park; three sculptures from Tobin’s 2009 Weed series at Hackett Park; and two pieces with locations to be determined.
Tobin was born in 1957 in Bucks County, Pa. He graduated with a B.S. in mathematics from Tulane University in 1979. His artistic expression has been in diverse media, including glass (blown and cast), bronze, steel, ceramics, as well as works on paper. He began in glass with studies and teaching fellowships at Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State and Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. He was invited to work in glass in Murano, Italy, as the first foreigner permitted to operate a studio on the island.
In 1994 Tobin began to create works in bronze. Natural formations such as termite hills, sprouting plants, and tree root systems create wonder and are recurring themes and shapes for Tobin. He is best known for Trinity Root, inspired by the fallen sycamore tree that shielded Trinity Chapel during the devastation on 9/11 in New York City.
In 2016 he was the featured artist in the Jing’An International Sculpture Project in Shanghai, China, with an exhibit of 48 bronze and steel sculptures. His work has been in over 50 exhibits worldwide, and he is represented in over 50 collections and museums, including in Finland, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C., and Florida.