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    Photo by Mickie Winters

    In rural Achocalla, on the outskirts of La Paz in Bolivia, a god is imprinting a fingerprint into the earth. It’s about 102 feet wide and 134 feet long, the swirling print made of stones, which will eventually be set in concrete, the paths between them filled with colorful gravels, low indigenous plants beautifying gaps.

    The first giant fingerprint Dave Caudill designed is under construction in Bolivia and has three paths, all of them wide enough for wheelchairs and each longer than the last to accommodate walkers of all abilities. You can visit the print for a leisurely stroll or take a long contemplative walk through, as Caudill says, “a metaphor for our journey through life.”

    The 67-year-old tells me about this project in his Crescent Hill studio, a space he designed himself. The ceiling juts up to a 24-foot cliff-point, beneath which a cluster of windows, one of them stained glass, pours in light. A tall heater like you’d see outside a bar in winter warms the place, and evidence of Caudill’s work stacks all around — paint cans on a shelf, a welding machine, a kind of grinding contraption, sharp scraps of steel piled in a corner like Frank Gehry threw up on the concrete floor.

    Caudill has been focused on outdoor and public sculptures since he installed an undersea work in the Bahamas 20 years ago. If you’ve been by the U of L School of Music, you’ve seen his enormous sculpture of 500 metal music notes welded together, spilling like confetti down the building. His latest proposal is Odyssey, an even grander fingerprint twice as big as the one in Bolivia, with colorful paths of terrazzo — concrete mixed with shards of other materials like marble or glass — separated by turf or low plants. He wants to build this one in Louisville.

    Caudill’s half-a-football-field-sized idea has the support of folks like Gill Holland and renowned art collector Al Shands. Exactly where the work could go is up for discussion, but Caudill mentions a few places, including Portland, citing development in the area and the civic impact a major public artwork could potentially have on the underprivileged neighborhood.

    See Caudill’s work, including a model of Odyssey, at his exhibition opening Feb. 9 at the Moremen-Moloney Contemporary Gallery in Butchertown.

    This originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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    About Dylon Jones

    Dylon Jones is a poet, essayist and journalist based in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as web editor for Louisville Magazine. His narrative journalism has earned him first-place awards in feature writing and profile reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2015, he was awarded the Flo Gault Poetry Prize by Sarabande Books. His poems will appear in Tinderbox Poetry Journal and The Collagist in 2018.

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