When I was a Freshman architect student in 1967 at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, our class was taken out to the dry bed of the South Canadian River. Our task was to build structures in the sand of the river bottom, using the water we'd find when we dug down about 2 or 3 feet.
And some students built incredible sculptures like in the pics above, but all buildings, not figures. And so there was an Arc de Triumph, and a United Nations, and all kinds of famous buildings.
But I built instead a series of simple cones. And when a Professor asked me to explain my work, I said I was letting the medium, the sand, direct me.
All those other creations were artificial copies of works not done in sand, and would soon collapse. My cones represented the natural properties of sand, and would remain there for a long time, after the other works had melted away.
The Professor told me I was the only student who had grasped the purpose of this exercise - to let the materials direct the structure. Whether sand, or concrete, wood or steel, the design should reflect the materials. Or so the academic architectural philosophy of the 1960s said.
Well, anyway, I soon became disenchanted with architecture, though it had been my goal for half of my young life. The crass economic reality of the business didn't match my idealistic expectations, and I dropped out of college.
But I still can't see a sand sculpture without having flashbacks to that college field trip in Oklahoma in 1967. And continue to wonder why such talented hands construct ephemeral things so quickly decayed. Even though all things perish, I guess I wish for the things I create myself to outlast at least my own brief life.