The Artist

Paul Hill is a Wilmington, NC based metal sculptor whose work is currently on display in downtown Wilmington as part of the Pedestrian Art Program. Five of his sculptures are currently exhibited in various locations downtown through June, 2010. He works primarily with steel, stainless steel, bronze and copper and prefers to use the direct metal approach to sculpture. In this style of art, metal is pieced together and manipulated directly as opposed to indirectly by melting and casting. Paul prefers this method because, "working this way lets me and the work become spontaneous, exciting and boundless".

Absolute Uncertainty can be found near Bijou Park, 226 N Front Street in downtown Wilmington.

Artistic Style

Paul Hill describes his influences as the Industrial Age of Machinery and the Art-Deco period. He enjoys transforming the metal into something recognizable to viewers. He creates his metal sculptures by "twisting, bending and cutting" the metal with the use of numerous tools. He begins with a steel frame formed to serve as the basis of the sculpture. From this frame he adds each piece carefully to develop his work. When the sculpture is complete, he adds a finish to the metal such as mineral spirits, linseed oil or a turpentine base.


Absolute Uncertainty by Paul Hill, created in December, 2006, is a sculpture composed of steel I-beams, plate steel, wood and concrete. The sculpture measures 11ft X5ft X 5ft and consists of three vertical steel beams, each capped with a circular piece of steel that is filled with a disc of concrete. Two of the discs are hollow and one is filled with a sculpted human face. The three vertical beams are mounted on a hexagonal piece of steel which is anchored to a hexagonal wooden platform. There is an overall geometric design to the sculpture, with the use of vertical lines, circles, triangles and the hexagonal base. This geometric design is offset by the use of organic shapes including the wavy, spiritual lines extending from the vertical beams as well as the arc extending from one beam. Although the sculpture is asymmetrical, it is unified by the rhythm of vertical beams and the neutral color scheme consisting of various values of brown. The three beams appear to represent human form, as implied by the beam containing a human face. They appear to be connected as they are gathered together closely, yet separated by their different heights. The facial figure appears hypnotic, with eyes nearly shut. This facial expression imparts a calm mood of deep inflection and spirituality. Perhaps the artist is illustrating the different aspects of the self. The sculpture’s title, Absolute Uncertainty, implies a sense of awareness of the unknown. The abstract nature of the sculpture adds to this idea. This piece of art reminds me of some of the tribal pieces we have studied. As with the tribal art, there is an air of mysticism and intense thought. I feel this abstract sculpture is a unique expression of the artist’s acknowledgment of the unknown. I think it offers the viewer an opportunity to reflect and consider what it means to them personally.

Paul Hill describes this piece by saying, “The passage of time slowly reveals our inner and outer blemishes...This is the first piece in a series of 5 sculptures...with the intent to involve the observer both physically and physiologically.”


Per the artist, Absolute Uncertainty was the first of a series of five sculptures designed to involve the viewer both physically and psychologically. The viewer is drawn in physically by moving around the sculpture to observe each angle and detail. Psychologically, the viewer is enticed to ponder its meaning.

Connection: Woman with Packages by Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois' Woman with Packages embodies similar artistic style as Paul Hill's Absolute Uncertainty. Both sculptures are created through assembled metal and represent human form. These pieces both share a vertical thrust of direction and are topped with abstract forms of a head. While Hill's sculpture is largely geometric in shape, Bourgeois' piece is formed of organic shapes with soft, rounded edges. Perhaps Bourgeois used these rounded shapes to enhance the figure's femininity. Both sculptures elicit the viewer's attention and interpretation through their abstract, mysterious forms.

Choice Explained

I chose the sculpture Absolute Uncertainty for this project because I was intrigued by its mysterious and introspective qualities. I was able to walk freely around the sculpture and view it from various angles as it was in a natural setting with no limitations on my exploration. I also visited two of Hill's other sculptures on display as part of the Pedestrian Art Program. While they are all unique in their composition, they each demand the viewer's attention and contemplation. Included are two photos of Hill's other displayed sculptures: Southern Hospitality (left) and Insatiable (right).


College, Johnson County Community. Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. 15 April 2010 .
Flickr. Paul Hill - Sculptor. April 2010 .
Getlein, Mark. Living with Art, 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
Pedestrian Art. April 2010 .
Tucker, Brian. "Wilmington sculptor’s Pedestrian Art metal pieces are playful, introspective." 12 January 2010. Star News Online. April 2010 .
Worldwide Art Resources/ 1999. April 2010 .