The Award Sculpture

Inspired by a human brain preserved in formaldehyde, as well as various models and drawings of brains, Tamia Marg sculpted oil-based clay to resemble a brain. She made a silicone mold of the clay brain, and enclosed it in a plaster mothermold (to hold the otherwise floppy silicone in place). After pouring hot wax into the stem end of the mold, she rotated the mold to coat its interior with a thin even coat of wax. This hollow wax casting and a separate solid casting of the ovoid base were taken to the Artworks foundry in Berkeley.

The craftspeople there encased the wax brain in a heat-resistant material, burned the wax away, and then poured molten bronze into the heated shell. Later, they heated the bronze base while spraying it with an acidic mixture to give it the bluish-green patina. They also gave the bronze brain a high polish before it received its 23-carat gold plating at Monsen Plating in Berkeley. Tamia painted the entire brain with black lacquer and wiped the paint clean from the high points and stem.

Brain and base were fastened together, and a polished brass circle engraved with the awardee's name was mounted on the award. Furniture maker, Lawrence Gandsey of Oakland, designed and crafted the box to house the award. The box is of eastern maple grown in the Appalachians (Acer saccharum) and is held together with splines of mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) from Honduras, and is finished with a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine.