Behold All Things New

visual art in response to issues of concern

Comfort O Comfort My People

Sculpture, Gurdon Brewster

In back of my family home where I grew up was the Clay Pond, which was in the middle of the Great Swamp, off limits to young boys in search of adventure. "If you go in there you will never find your way out," I was told. The Clay Pond was a small hole, about 8 feet in diameter. If we dug deep enough with our hands through layers of mud and muck, our arms extending all the way so that the muddy water splashed our cheeks, we reached the mine of blue clay. I would scoop out a handful of the treasure, sit for magical hours on a rock away from snakes and snapping turtles and make objects of wonder, leaving them in the sun to dry and bake.

Some of the themes that interest me in my sculpture are the voiceless calling out, the lonely seeking welcome, the oppressed demanding justice, and the outcast and beaten living by enduring another night and another day. And then there are those who sing and embrace, and those who dance and dance and dance. I want to work my hands into those moments in life when incredible transformation is taking place.

While I am interested in these themes, I am a sculptor, fascinated by the three dimensional interplay of line, mass, shape and space. I may start with an idea that I want to develop but I quickly move into the challenge of how to create a sculpture that comes alive for me. A graceful line, an unusual balance, a twist or tilt of the mass that reaches towards some unexpected resolution are aspects of my sculpture on which I carefully work.

I can sense the moment in each finished sculpture when suddenly a mere lump of sticky dirt comes to life. Suddenly there is dialogue. Suddenly I am humbled by what I am being shown and where I am being led. Alas, my studio shelves are crowded with wonderful ideas that are absolutely dead as sculptures. Dead now, but always awaiting the miraculous transformation into life. I cannot fathom why it is that I seem unable to breathe life into these lifeless shapes. Somehow we are simply not yet ready for each other. Such is life and the challenge of it all.

My hands search towards the great questions of the spirit and lead me "by another way" in the direction of the unknown, the not yet, and the mysterious. There are many questions that are stimulated by my creating: What does the Creator have to do with our creativity? What is the relation between the deep creature passions of our senses and the sacred? Does our creativity make any difference to ourselves, to others, or to God? How does creativity affect the healing process of us, of others and the world? Restless hands and a soft hunk of clay call out to each other from across the abyss for answers in visual form to those questions that are often too deep for words. When I discover in chiseled walnut or textured bronze a shape, a space, a mass or a texture that lives for me, answers to the great questions of the spirit seem to be revealed for a moment and it feels as if my cup overflows.

Gurdon Brewster   

© 2005 The Episcopal Church & Visual Arts