Craft & Design


What kind of a Volkswagen bus rolls perfectly well but doesn’t drive? One molded into a perfect sphere by sculptor Lars Fisk, a former art director for the jam band Phish.

Fisk first conceived of orb art in the 1990s while driving through the Green Mountains on Vermont’s I-89 in a state of self-described “road hypnosis.” Staring at the passing pavement, he imaged the tarmac rolling up beneath him into a spherical form that could be placed somewhere — like on the floor of a gallery. So began a decade-long obsession with balls.

“It’s an unlikely shape for any useful object to take,” Fisk says. “They’re unusual for terrestrial use because they just end up rolling away.”

Fisk set to work on the concrete and asphalt Street Ball, complete with painted traffic lines. He went on to make a sod-covered Field Ball, as well as a Tree Ball made from a maple log. Barn Ball incorporated hay, and Sink Ball … well, you get it. His streak of spheres inspired by motorized objects included John Deere Ball and UPS Ball, which had such an authentic brown-and-gold paint job that it was mistaken for company property.

Fisk based his most ambitious ball of all on a 1967 Volkswagen Samba Deluxe. To build the globular bus, he scavenged parts — seat, steering wheel, emblems — from junkyards and anywhere else he could find them. The dashboard ashtray came from Australia; some Beetle parts snuck in. Fisk freely describes how he formed the windshield through a process called slumping, which involves delicately melting a flat pane into a mold so that it relaxes into place. But exactly how he shaped the metal shell is a trade secret.

“I like the balls to be kind of elusive,” he says. “The mystery is part of the interest. People mistake these things for actual objects. They cannot place them in their world. They’re not sure if the balls are supposed to be taken as sculpture or what.”

>> Fisk’s Work at Taxter & Spengemann Gallery:

>> Fisk’s Artist in Residency Program: