Rituals of human existence are part of a greater sacrament.
Biblically speaking, we have the garden call to tend, and
in some responsible way, to transform. Calvin Seerveld wrote,
" Art is one way for men and women to respond to the
Lord's command to cultivate the earth ... art is neither more
nor less than that. "As an artist therefore, I have
a responsibility to the culture I live in while not being
subject to it's whims. I have been carving, drawing and
painting figures, torsos specifically, male and female.
But why a torso? It exists without a face or head so as
not to confuse it with portraiture, no limbs so as to make
it a single volume form, compact and essential, keeping
the integrity of its stoniness, like the mountain, like
the pebble. It also references its ancient counterparts
which although are fragments of their original form, still
are able to affirm the humanity and beauty that belies them.
I work and rework a similar figurative motif in an attempt
not to perfect but to proliferate, like seed planted for
a later harvest.
It is a journey "by stages" even as Abraham moved
across the Negeb (Genesis 12:9). Every work is a prayer
of thanks, an assertion/affirmation of the present, a short-wave
means for speaking with both the past and the future and
a hope to be relevant to one's own age. Every work too is
a first edition informed by ancestral stories, meta-narratives
that still resonate with comedy and tragedy, romance and
loss, tears and humor. I'm aiming for an honesty here. I
am not trying to be a contemporary priest of the culture,
simply trying to make the work speak. And speak to what,
or to whom? To speak through materials that are like us:
the stuff of the earth, straining to reach upward and out
of its own weight and mass. Nicholas Wolterstorff said, "
If you and I carve wood, apply paint to canvas, pile stone
on stone, or inscribe marks on paper, we are dealing with
things which bear to us the most intimate of relations."
Each torso wears a garment, something more akin to a t-shirt
and jeans than classical robes. The intent however is the
same. Clothes are a covering, protection, first as leaves,
skins and fur, the wool of sheep, full buds of cotton, pulled
and paired down to their simplest lines and woven in grids,
braids, knitted into patterns and later dyed because we
cannot live without color. And what is it like to be clothed?
Warm, secure, comfortable. Clothed, shod, fitted, buttoned,
tailored, zipped. It is the language of the tailor's threads,
crafted and holding the planes in place under tension and
release that I am interested in, not the language of fashion's
flippant trendiness. Terms such as "cut" and "fit"
apply to the human form that will wear these garments. And
like a river wrapping or the way branches entwine, the cloth
folds and unfolds, wrinkles and flattens into a pressed
surface. The planes act with our twist, our change, our
growth. They take on the human form, worn and warmed with
our mass and symmetry.
The Biblical allusions from Paul's letter to the Colossians
is particularly poignant here. "The new self"
is transformative as one "puts on" the stuff of
compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
most of all love "which binds everything together in
perfect harmony." What more fitting image of this incarnational
life that moves and matures in such a set of threads as
Barrington Center for the Arts
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