Up the scenic I-395— with the glorious Sierra Mountains as a backdrop— lies a series of metallic art sculptures, each one strangely unique and meticulously sculpted. Some are colorful, others rusty, but all seem to convey some kind of purpose for the viewer to interpret themselves.
You've got this dude.
And this dude.
And my favorite, these dudes.
Then there's the centerpiece of it all: the give/take statue. Besides looking pretty gnarly, this guy encourages wary travels to give something, while taking an item that another stranger has left. All of this is done in some kind of an attempt to connect humanity through the power of giving.
The statues are the work of artists and sculptor Jael Hoffman, who's found a home for her metallic creations in the desert town of Olancha.
Now what is the purpose of all of this, you might ask? Take it from the mouth of Jael herself, who in an interview said: "My Sculpture gardens facilitate access to art. The rugged environments my sculptures chose to inhabit are not coincidental, but supportive of their unadorned messages.”
Yep, you heard it. These fun statues all have much deeper meaning and are representations of Jael's personal philosophies on life. The hitchhiker with briefcase conveys the emotional baggage we carry around in life, the monsters that signify anger and frustration and there are variations on the classic 'hear no evil, see no evil' which seem to showcase lost identity.
That's right folks, these aren't your average metal heads, they've got issues just like you and I.
HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?
Born in Israel, but educated in Berlin, Jael Hoffmann always had a passion for politics, psychology and questioning the status quo of society. After earning her Masters Degree, she set off to find artistic ways to spread her ideology, which would lead her to sunny Southern California during a summer break. It was in the desert where she’d meet her husband, start a family and find a new home.
With her new life seemingly in place, Jael was still struggling to find a creative outlet for her ideas. However, a chance meeting with her brother John— a jewelry welding hippie from Big Sur— would lead Jael down the path of sculpting, a passion that would stick.
After briefly experimenting with paper-mache, Hoffman realized that she needed something durable for her sculpting projects and decided to go the metal route. With a hefty plasma cutter in tow, everything you see here has been hand crafted and designed by Jael herself.