CGS Sculpture Artist: David Hinkle

Arts Everywhere teamed up with the Center for Galapagos Studies (CGS) to call for proposals for sculptures in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Center for Galapagos Studies. Four artists were selected to create a piece of human-sized art (4-7 feet) with recycled and sustainable materials that represent and celebrate the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.

Learn more about David Hinkle, one of the four artist teams chosen for the CGS Sculpture project, and their sculpture of a marine iguana! 

About the Artist

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your artistic journey. 

david hinkle headshot

I have always been a craftsman. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, in rural McKeesport, Pennsylvania. As a kid, I built forts in the woods behind my house and carved small animals out of wood, creating worlds with my imagination and my hands. In high school, I took several drafting and mechanical drawing classes. I spent countless hours at the drafting table, honing the skills of drawing complex and communicative drawings. Later, I attended St. Andrew’s College in Laurinburg, North Carolina and, while there, took sculpture classes. I majored in English, studying a number of Japanese writers. This sparked an interest in Eastern cultures, which have indirectly influenced my art. After graduation, I began a master’s degree program in Landscape Architecture at North Carolina State’s School of Design. I took a residential design-build studio with Will Hooker and was introduced to Permaculture principles and techniques, as well as strong residential design-build fundamentals. Will’s studio and my involvement with the interdisciplinary student environmental design group ECOS LOGOS set me on the path I would follow for the next thirty years. 

wooden seesaws

During school and following graduation, I worked for Will Alphin at Alphin Design Build (now and began learning about residential and commercial design and construction. Will’s attention to detail and passion for master craftsmanship was an inspiration. Here I learned and honed the skills that I would use in my own landscape design-build practice. “Plumb, level, and square” (I added “be patient”) became the basis for everything.

steps made of stone

My two passions – art and landscape design build – were fused when in 2017, I submitted an application to build a large bee hotel for the Orange County Arts Commission. The bee hotel now stands in a pollinator garden near the River Walk in Gold Park, Hillsborough, North Carolina, and has hints of my appreciation for Japanese design.

bee hotel overview
Bee hotel by David Hinkle

Inspired by the Gold Park project, in 2020, I entered a smaller bee hotel in the NC Botanical Garden’s annual Sculpture in the Gardens exhibit and won the People’s Choice award for the piece. The bee hotel now stands in the Children’s Garden in the Botanical Gardens. I am also currently participating in the Raleigh Public Arts Mentorship Program.

Who or what are your inspirations?

Giles Blunden, Will Hooker, Will Alphin, Christopher Alexander (A Pattern Language), The Jersey Devils, John Connel, Yestermorrow Design/Build School. Natural patterns in nature. Sacred geometries.

bee hotel close up

One word to describe your art? 


wooden sculpture of santa and instead of reindeer, there are bees.
The Bumble Express by David Hinkle

What’s your dream project? 

Really any opportunity to create using natural and salvaged material and connect to nature. Building and teaching at the Yestermorrow School or in Northern Italy.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or somewhere you’d like to go? 

Brunnenburg Castle, South Tyrol, Italy.

On the CGS Sculpture Project

Sculpture info

  • Title: Blue-footed Booby
  • Description: The blue-footed booby, carved from Western red cedar, is set in its nesting site on the Galápagos Islands. The blue-footed booby creates a nest on land that is defined by a circular-guano ring. My piece is made from salvaged materials, including wood, used whiskey barrels, and metal. The base incorporates both salvaged glass blocks, which are meant to symbolize the water, and salvaged cement blocks from Michael Brown’s Sea Turtles mural that stood for decades near the corner of Columbia and Rosemary Streets. In a nod to my love for native bees and bee hotels, two small native bee nesting sites sit on either side the blue-footed booby.

What drew you to apply for The Center for Galapagos Studies Sculpture project? 

The project felt like an opportunity to continue my exploration of combining my passion for outdoor art and representations of nature and working with salvaged materials.

hand-drawn blue footed booby and a close up drawing of their feet
Drawing of blue-footed booby by David Hinkle

Tell us which animal you choose and why. 

I chose the blue-footed booby because of its nearly Carolina blue feet and whimsical character and the artistic pattern of its nest.

photo of a blue-footed booby in the wild
Blue-footed booby

What sustainable and recycled materials did you use? (We heard that you repurposed the Turtle mural that used to be in downtown Chapel Hill!)

Used whiskey barrels and salvaged glass block, copper, and wood from past construction projects. The bird is carved out of Western red cedar. The bee nesting sites are made from Trader Joes tin coffee cans and cardboard tubes. The concrete blocks were salvaged in July of 2021 when Michael Brown’s Sea Turtles mural was taken down. I was helping my daughter, a UNC student, move onto campus that day and happened to drive as the mural was being taken down.

painted on the wall are two brown sea turtles in an ocean of blues and greens
Photo of Sea Turtles, a mural by Michael Brown

How do you hope the community will engage with your piece? 

I hope the community will appreciate the creative reuse of materials. I hope the piece will bring awareness to the work of UNC’s Galapagos Center, as well as remind everyone of the importance of our natural ecosystem and the many creatures with which we share the earth, such as the blue-footed booby and native bees.

conceptual drawing in pencil - text reads: back of sculpture with information placards. pencil drawn people to give scale of scupture
Conceptual drawing by David Hinkle

What’s your favorite aspect of your sculpture? 

The carved sculptural elements and the beloved Sea Turtles mural blocks.

the blue footed booby sculpture in progress

How has your experience with landscape design influenced your recent projects, including this one?

This project feels like a natural extension of all of my prior work, especially because I have used and been inspired by salvaged materials.

View David’s rendition of the blue-footed booby at the Coker Arboretum! Be sure to look for the other three pieces as part of this project outside FedEx Global Education Center and the Morehead Planetarium.

All photos are courtesy of David Hinkle. To learn more about David, visit his website or check out his Instagram!