"Citrus Reaches California"


2003 -- the California Citrus State Historic Park
Size:18" x 36" x 18"
Scale: Approx. 2in. = 1 ft. (1/6th scale)
Figures: 2 men at 11 in.; 2 oxen
The figures are dressed in historically accurate clothing. The oxen pull a two-wheeled carreta or cart filled with baskets of oranges over authentically rutted ground cover.


The Problem: Exhibit designer Howard Schureman wanted to show the birth of the California citrus industry through the harvesting of citrus trees brought from Mexico and planted around the Franciscan missions about 1780.

The Challenge: MIT was hired to create two original human figures, one a California native and the other a Franciscan padre. In addition, we needed to sculpt the two oxen and build a carreta filled with baskets of oranges pulled by the oxen. The padre and his worker needed to show convincing body language and attitude, while the carreta had to be a historically accurate representation of the classic "ironless cart."

The Solution: Martha used a two-part resin applied to wire armatures to create the human figures. Once the resin cured, she sculpted the final shapes and individual features on each. She used the same technique for the oxen. Joanne then clothed the human figures in fabric, based on costume research. Tom researched, designed and built the carreta as it would have in been in 1780, with solid wooden wheels. Tom's research indicated that the oxen were yoked to the cart's drawbar by lashing the yoke to the animals horns. Joanne filled the cart with wicker baskets containing oranges made to scale out of modeling compound. Once the figures were posed in appropriate active stances and wired to the base, Joanne and Martha completed the scene with natural materials as ground cover and small animal sculptures in the undergrowth.

The oxen's horns are lashed to the yoke with the drawbar slung beneath.

This is the working drawing derived from the historical research. It shows exactly how the carreta was put together.
The final model shows the cage lashed together with raffia. Also note the interaction between the native and the padre.
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