When you consider how many things can go wrong at a metal foundry, it’s a miracle that anything comes out right. The range of potential catastrophes is almost infinite. Molds crack, wax shatters; molten bronze does strange things at 1,700 degrees.
But a great many things came out right at Long Island City’s Empire Bronze Foundry in the 1980s, mostly because of Brian Ramnarine. The stout, thick-fingered artisan owned and operated the foundry for more than a decade, achieving a great deal of notoriety in the world of fine sculpture along the way. The role of a metal foundry is to execute an artistic work in perfect replica; to take an original form in clay or plaster or carved stone and render it in cold metal. And for a period beginning in the late ’80s and lasting through the late ’90s, only a few dozen artisans in the United States, maybe fewer, could handle bronze like Ramnarine.