To make something from nothing takes vision, strength and creativity. This sculpture by Eric Strauss is emblematic of, and dedicated to, all the people that came together to create the new City of Johns Creek. When you contemplate the sculpture, think about how the vines have interwoven to create the dramatic new figure of a horse. The horse is situated as if rising from the direction of the Chattahoochee River, to move towards a new place that would become Johns Creek. The hind legs are reminiscent of Cyprus trees, stretching tall to reach eternity. The hundreds of vines that make up the body of the horse are each individually hand crafted. They vary in their curves, ridges, and thickness. These many unique intertwined “vines” represent the threads of diversity in our community. As vines in nature depend on other vines for support, so do the vines in the horse. They follow a twisted wavy path as they push forward to grow, wrapping together for greater strength. In the same way, our community relies on the talents and expertise of community members and leaders to create a strong tightknit fabric. Like vines, when supporting one another, we become strong enough to withstand adversity and together strive to reach new heights.
Which vine are you? Your vine may change over time but will remain forever part of the Johns Creek’s Entwined Strength. As this majestic horse rears up on his hind legs, stretching towards the sky, our community stives to reach new heights, inclusive and supported by all.
As with people who are often called by their nickname, we lovingly call our horse “Patches” after Eric Strauss’s horse when he lived in the Shakerag area.
Entwined Strength is constructed of 4,000 pounds of hot forged steel. Eric Strauss considers himself an assemblage sculpture and self-taught metal smith. He describes his artistic style for this piece as using “architectural techniques and toolings in a sculptural way”. Eric used hundreds of steel rods to create the sculpture. Each piece was heated repeatedly until 1400 degrees glowing red and then struck by hammer against the anvil countless times. Next, the pieces were reheated a final time, then twisted and pulled to create the “wavy gravy” flow and ridges seen in the form of the horse. Eric worked each piece like a puzzle to create the form – tacking and retacking pieces. Once he achieved the desired form the pieces were hand welded. Johns Creek Community members, City Council Representatives and Secret Garden Tour participants who hammered on the metal rods had their pieces incorporated into the sculpture. The sculpture will be oiled and left to create its natural rust patina. The patina process will take a few years to fully develop it deep earthy brown tone.
There were many unexpected challenges with creating Entwined Strength. The COVID pandemic hit at the same time Eric began construction. He had to quickly find the supplies before the shutdown of businesses. Once construction began Eric realized his hammer would not withstand the needed use. He ordered a German style enclose power hammer. The hammer was caught in the port backups due to COVID. After months of waiting, he had to drive to Texas to get the hammer. Eric’s studio is on the top of a mountain. The driveway required regrading and graveling the to safely deliver the equipment and transport sculpture to Johns Creek sculpture. Additionally, the studio’s cement floor needed reinforcement to support the weight of the new pneumatic hammer. During the creation of Patches, Eric burned through two welding torches and countless small tools.
Eric Strauss was chosen to create the piece because of his unique artistic style and his connections to the Johns Creek community. Eric grew up on a farm in the Shakerag area and is very excited to create this special piece for the city. Eric finds inspiration in imagery from the earth and combines it with his hand-forged steel to create a unique juxtaposition between nature and industrialization. After discovering sculpture at Georgia Southern, Eric studied art in Cortona, Italy, eventually returning home to Atlanta to open a studio. He gained recognition with his 2006 Booth Museum of Art exhibit. His pieces can be found in private and public art collections across America and Europe.