Micro Shaq: Shaquille Oneal Through the Eyes of Willard Wigan
What do Shaquelle Oneal and micro-artist Willard Wigan have in common? Basketball, believe it or not! Micro Shaq, a piece created by Wigan, achieves something no one else in the world can lay claim. The sculpture reduces Shaq's 7-foot frame down to a microscopic piece of art which literally fits into the head of a needle, or the period at the end of this sentence.
Welcome to the surprise of your life.
Shaq and Micro Shaq
Micro Shaq, Willard Wigan's brainchild, is a sculpture which can only be seen through a microscope because it is in a word – microscopic, as are all of Wigan's works of art.
You have to view this work of Shaq to believe it is really him, so make sure to click on the pictures to the right, in order to appreciate Wigan's phenomenal artistry.
As to Shaq's reaction, he said the following after viewing a New York showing of Wigan's work
"Put a guy like me into a little pin? That's crazy!" said the seven-foot one-inch O'Neil, who viewed himself.
"I can't do it! Took him seven weeks? Probably take me 17 years!"
Shaq has discovered the same truth others come to accept, once they have taken the time to view Wigan's work under a microscope, he is an artist in a league of his own.
Wigan is a micro-sculptor. With his creations, the smaller, the better, because the bigger the impact.
An impact that can only be felt when viewing microscopically or with the use of slides the attention to detail and complexity of each piece Wigan creates.
Micro Artist Willard Wigan
The first question that comes to mind when examining these magnificient sculptures is of course, how does he do that?
Using a microscope, Wigan has taught himself to slow down his respiratory system and knows working between his own heart beat he has one and a half seconds to time out his steps.
Using crushed glass, fibers, and the tiniest of materials he creates works of art which typically rest on the head of pin or inside the eye of a needle.
Working with such delicate fibers means he sometimes inhales his own work, if he is not careful, which is why he has developed patience into an art form as well.
Meticulously working in between his own breathe and heartbeat for hours upon hours he endures the process to reach the finished work.
The painstaking process, the eye-hand coordination,the patience, it is no wonder Wigan readily admits, "I don't actually enjoy doing the work. It sends me insane, doing it!"
He improvises his own tools - the hairs of a dead fly for a paint brush. Tools so small, they sometimes get lost.
This is what happened to Alice through Wigan's looking-glass:
"So, I'm lifting her with the eyelash to put her underneath the table. So, I have to poke the top of her head, and I'm poking. And as I'm poking her - and I'm doing this microscopically - and at the same time, I'm going [makes deep breathing noise], I lift her out again, and then . . . !"
Wigan inhaled Alice
"And then ugh, gone!"
Of course that is not the only time he has "lost" one of his pieces. Imagine not being able to inhale for fear of swallowing your work?
Wigan Tells His Story for Twenty Minutes - Very Entertaining
- Willard Wigan: Hold your breath for micro-sculpture | Video on TED.com
TED Talks Willard Wigan tells the story of how a difficult and lonely childhood drove him to discover his unique ability to create art so tiny that it can't be seen with the naked eye. A slideshow accompanies his lecture.
It Doesn't Get Any Smaller Than This
How small does his artwork get? Most pieces can't even be seen with the naked eye. Some of them are only three times the size of a blood cell.
And each piece - fairies, animals, movie stars, Shaq - typically sit in the eye of a needle, or on the head of a pin, I suppose it would be more artistic to say each piece sits framed in the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin.
How small can he go?
"I could probably go down to, say, five microns," Wigan said. "The tip of a human hair."
Believe it or not, his work will continue to decrease in size if Wigan has anything to say about it.
"I haven't reached my peak," he said. "My work is still too big!"
A Seven Minute Explaination of How He Started Micro Art
Willard Wigan's Motivating Force
Sadly, the reason Willard Wigan started miniaturizing at age 5 is the result of learning disabilities (dyslexia for one) which made him feel unimportant and small. Surprisingly, his teacher was a very negative influence on Willard and so he slowly escaped his pain by fantasizing about small worlds. His first "work" consisted of apartments he made for ants he observed beneath his feet. (This is detailed in the 20 minute video I have linked to.)
He thought if he made a home for the ants they would stay. He did observe they never paid him any rent money, however.
When he was a little boy growing up in Birmingham, England, struggling with learning disabilities, he says a cold-hearted schoolteacher belittled him.
"'You are an exhibition of failure, and all the children in the school need to know about you, because this is what happens if you don't listen to me, children,' - you know, that type of thing? So, that made me feel that small."
His mother was more constructive and helpful.
"She said to me, 'You are now going to continue to make small things.' And I said, 'Why?' And she says, 'If you keep making small things, your name will get bigger!'
"She said, 'The smaller your work, the bigger your name'."
Wigan's work has been called "the 8th Wonder of the World".
Wigan has been awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) by Prince Charles.
Currently he is receiving much interest in books and movies about his life story.
Art Curator - Shaquille Oneal's Connection to Wigan
Shaquille Oneal has become an art curator and has his giant exhibit to prove it.
Aptly named “Size Does Matter” all things tall are highlighted – with one small exception- Micro Shaq.
Actually he picked pieces that were significant and meaningful to him and appealed to his taste. Both of Willard Wigan's pieces can be viewed by scrolling down to the end of the picture gallery. In addition to Shaq, Wigan also did an inaugural image of the first family.
“It began when I was five years old,” says Willard. “I started making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live. Then I made them shoes and hats. It was a fantasy world I escaped to where my dyslexia didn’t hold me back and my teachers couldn’t criticize me. That’s how my career as a micro-sculptor began.”