Nivola began developing his sandcasting technique shortly after moving to Springs, East Hampton, New York in 1948. Just two years later, the artist would exhibit his early sandcast works for the first time at Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York. Untitled [Totem], created in 1953, is an example of these preliminary experimentations with sandcasting. It includes several elements that Nivola would go on to explore further in his work, namely the use of color and the incorporation of both abstract and figurative features. Nivola’s ambiguous yet suggestive forms subtly reference the human figure. This quality is present throughout the artist’s oeuvre and, especially, in his later sculptural work.