Railroad sign with railroad ties and gazing ball

JOHN WOODRUM ★ Telesis: The Resilient Anchor

Roanoke Resident John Woodrum created Telesis: The Resilient Anchor for this call.

This sculpture is made up of one giant mirrored orb, eight railroad tracks and four thick dock ropes. The four thick ropes represent the word “telesis” and are held together by the strength and unity of the community with its fascinating ability to bond together the bent railroad tracks. The tracks and base are constructed from recycled foam. The orb itself is made up of two repurposed hemisphere domes from a pre-existing building.

Telesis: The Resilient Anchor, 2021
Dock Rope, Plastic & Foam

This sculpture is made up of one giant mirrored orb, eight railroad tracks and four thick dock ropes. The four thick ropes represent the word “telesis” and are held together by the strength and unity of the community with its fascinating ability to bond together the bent railroad tracks. The tracks and base are constructed from recycled foam. The orb itself is made up of two repurposed hemisphere domes from a pre-existing building.

In attempt to give form to a new vision of Roanoke, I followed my passion in industrial design along with my grassroots from living here most of my life. In order to sculpt a new perspective with repurposed materials by Re-Imagining Roanoke. I started brainstorming for initial concepts by taking long introspective night walks around downtown Roanoke while absorbing the surrounding visual elements from high to low as well as from far to wide. One night while walking directly across the street from the downtown library in Elmwood Park, I had an epiphany when I suddenly noticed a one-of-a-kind red light post glaring above me. This light pole’s base shape had caught my eye and shed a significant light upon myself and my overall design. To see the inspiration for this sculpture, simply walk across the street from the Patrick Henry Hotel Parking lot and look for a light post that is painted red. Walk up to the bottom base of it to see the similarities.

The word Telesis is the popularized thought that people and the land make up the surrounding environment as it is today, which has four distinct parts. The four Ropes represent these four parts. A place to live, a place to work, a place to play, and the services which integrate and make them operate. The sociologist Lester Frank Ward coined the word “telesis” and emphasized the importance of social forces which could be guided at a macro-level using intelligence to achieve conscious progress. In essence, Telesis is a purposeful utilization of the processes of nature and society to obtain particular goals.

I hope that looking towards the future, one will see this sculpture and be inspired to create a new idea or project with locally sourced materials. The vertical railroad tracks represent the historical context of trains throughout the area. The entirety of this sculpture is held in unison by the four ropes which is ultimately supporting and protecting the mirrored orb inside. The mirrored orb displays the viewers own reflection, imagination and vision within the city. Do not climb on top of the mirrored ball or pull on the ropes. 

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