The Elephant Rider
The mahout is an elephant rider, trainer, or keeper, usually; a mahout starts as a boy in the family profession when he is assigned an elephant early in his life. They remain bonded to each other throughout their lives. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt introduced a useful analogy for thinking about behaviour change. Haidt argues that we have two sides: an emotional side (the Elephant), and an analytical, rational side (its rider). Haidt’s analogy has it that the Rider is rational and can therefore see a path ahead while underneath him, the Elephant provides the power for the journey. However, the Elephant is irrational and driven by emotion and instinct. “Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.” I have done a series of “The Elephant Rider” in bronze. In these sculptures, I want to emphasize the monumental quality of form in open space.


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