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:: By Mary Ruth Yoe

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In Every Issue ::

Lite of the mind

A rind is a terrible thing to waste.

Michelangelo had marble, but Hugh McMahon has pumpkins—and watermelons. McMahon is a Chicago-bred, Brooklyn-based artist who for the past 25 years has made his name and his living by carving gourds.     

Working from a photograph of Cobb Gate, McMahon chose one of the large stone figures at its base—figures which, according to the official campus walking guide, “represent the admissions counselor and college examiner denying ready passage.” Rendered in picnic-ripe melon rather than Indiana limestone, the gatekeeper appears more likely to be bitten into than to bite.

McMahon—whose work has appeared at venues from the Whitney Museum to the Hard Rock Café—achieves his luminous effects by scraping away at the rind to let gradations of light shine through. One do-it-yourself tip: placing the hole at the bottom, not the top, helps the gourd hold its shape. Refrigeration works too.

photo:  lite of the mind