Ancient heavy metal
Vic Chevillon has always been creative, with drawing and writing poetry. Then one day, one very specific day, that creativity was given a specific focus. It was the day Chevillon came across a large petroglyph just outside Moab, Utah. So taken was he by the scene depicted—it appeared to show a family, and perhaps, Chevillon surmised, depict their seasonal migration—he spent six or seven hours just taking it all in.
“It blew my mind,” says Chevillon. “I felt I had to do something.”
Chevillon began recreating in metal the forms he found in the Moab petroglyph, as well as other petroglyphs and pictographs he’s found around the West.
Chevillon had been working in metal since 1984. Fascinated by “their balance, persistence, feel and desert heart where they grow,” cacti were the first subjects Chevillon created in the medium. So, when he “started doing something” relating to his rock art experiences, metal was a natural choice.
Chevillon’s somewhat frequent rock art encounters are a result of his profession. For more than three decades, he has scoured vast portions of the West working in exploration geology, searching out gold and other metal deposits, such as copper, lead and zinc.
For Chevillon, creating rock art–inspired sculpture is a way of connecting humans over time. As he states on his website: “The sculpture is intended to capture the place, texture, and heat of where the petroglyph and pictograph images were found. True to the shape and form of the originals, the collaboration extends the work of the Ancient Ones to a broader audience.”
Chevillon began by creating small pieces he gave away to friends. Then the work began to grow. The increased size effectively translated the grand power and awe Chevillon felt from the rock art that inspired him, a feeling he sought to relay through his work.
“I want to capture the feeling of wonderment you see when you’re in the field,” Chevillon says.
One of the most powerful early pieces he created was inspired by that wall in Moab, the one that had set this creative journey in motion. Called “Rabbit Hunter,” the work is an eight-foot recreation of what Chevillon believes is the father figure in the scene. Upon completing the piece, Chevillon says: “It stopped me in my tracks.”
Chevillon has participated in Artown several times—2002, 2004-2006, and this coming July—by placing his sculpture in the public for viewing. Through the event, his work caught the eye of the City of Reno, and Chevillon was asked to create two pieces to be placed in a downtown xeriscape garden. You can now see those works—"Grimes Point Rock,” inspired by an old boulder at Grimes Point, and “Buffalo Mother,” which is a recreation of a pictograph Chevillon saw on Lake Tahoe’s Nevada shore—in the West Street Plaza next to Java Jungle.
For this year’s Artown, Chevillon is creating an installation comprised of three works. Titled Peace Quest, the three-piece grouping includes the eight-foot tall work “Wind Dancer,” a zigzag shape Chevillon found at Grimes Point, and another in-the-works piece. They will be placed on the island just downstream from Wingfield Park throughout July. Through these pieces, Chevillon again aims to bring life to these ancient forms, connecting humanity over a vast span of time.