George Rickey (1907-2002) was an American artist, best known for his large-scale moving sculptures. Many of his artworks were designed to be seen outside, made of shiny stainless steel that reflects its changing surroundings, and naturally powered by breezes. You may have heard the term STEAM at school, combining Science + Technology + Engineering + Art + Mathematics. George was a STEAM artist!
George was born in South Bend, Indiana. His father was a mechanical engineer and his grandfather was a clockmaker, and they both encouraged his childhood interest in figuring out how things work and move. Rickey studied painting and drawing at school. He became an art teacher and an artist, working and living for much of his life in upstate New York.
One holiday when he was a child, his father gave George a steam engine. He recalled:
Sculpture is a form of art that is three dimensional, meaning it has height, width, and depth. George made large-sized sculptures to be placed in the landscape outdoors. Sculptures can be made of stone, wood, metal, clay, or any other materials. George chose to use stainless steel, a smooth metal that shows reflections.
George also chose to make his sculptures kinetic, meaning they move. Parts shaped like squares, triangles, circles, lines, and zig zags rotate at different speeds depending on the wind. He used movement that ranged from back and forth (which he called “harmonic motion”) to circular paths (called “gyrating”) to arc-shaped (called “excentric”).
Listen to Merriam Webster's audio definition below:
Rickey Kids was conceived of and developed by Lisa Beth Podos with the assistance of Amanda Duquette, Maria Lizzi, Amanda Perry, Victoria Petway, and Hilary Vlastelica.
Photographs of works on Park Avenue by Diego Flores, courtesy of Kasmin. Photographs of works at Naumkeag by David Lee.
© George Rickey Foundation, Inc.