Spirit, 2001

Spirit, 2001
Virginia soapstone, 16.5" x 12.5" x 10"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Sky, Sleeping Mountain, 2002
Virginia soapstone and stonecut print
on Japanese paper, 38" x 14"

 

 

 

A Dialogue with Stone

As a sculptor, I feel an affinity with the ancient, elemental, rugged physicality of stone in its many natural states, from mountains and canyons to boulders and river stones, as well as the various ways it has been transformed by carvers and builders. Ancient standing stones, stone walls, pyramids, cathedrals and Japanese gardens put human history and actions into perspective, literally grounding them. They speak about humanity’s complex relationship with landscape. We live in awe of it, it shapes us, and yet we are constantly trying to transform it.

Sculptures bring stone onto a more human scale, and allow us to interact with the material on a personal level. My own sculpture is very much material-driven. In creating my sculptures, I first respond to the physical and gestural qualities of a rough chunk of stone, and then work to enhance its natural forms and rhythms. I work with the material to create an image that allows both the stone and the artist to speak to the viewer. I aim to incorporate the idea of the stone’s history and its intrinsic physical qualities into my personal vision, rather than imposing a preconceived idea onto the material.

The marks of my chisels and rasps complement and/or contrast with areas of raw and polished stone to create forms that evoke geological processes, landscape and the passage of time. Viewers will find references to fossils and archaeology as well. In order for me to work at a pace that respects the shape, hardness, weight and texture of each piece of stone that I work – in other words, that allows me to have a true “dialogue” with each stone - I have chosen to carve exclusively with hand tools.

Sculptures are strong presences that react physically with their surroundings and the viewer. To me, stone sculptures in particular are also living presences, with their own life-force, their own energy derived directly from geological processes. To enhance their gestural qualities, I occasionally experiment with physically balancing my pieces, allowing the works to interact more adventurously with the surrounding space and adding new layers of metaphor and meaning. I also create highly abstracted figural references with stone, thereby suggesting the close relationship between a living earth and her living creatures.

Beyond Stone

As a sculptor who enjoys making marks on stone–the physical traces of my work with hand tools–as much as I enjoy shaping pieces of stone, it was probably only a matter of time before I began to experiment with making marks on paper and canvas. I now work in all three media, occasionally even in combination.

Chisel marks are an integral part of my sculptural vocabulary. My works on paper have developed from this strong graphic element in my carving style. I began making marks on paper (using Japanese and European brushes with sumi ink and acrylic paints) while I was living in Kyoto in 2001-2002. I was to some extent influenced by Japanese calligraphy, both traditional and avant-garde, but deliberately chose not to make a study of calligraphy styles and kanji (Japanese characters). In fact, I feel a greater affinity with Abstract Expressionist and European informel artists, some of whom, of course, had Asian influences.

My relief prints are created by hand from carved or raw stone blocks, and so are especially close in spirit to my sculptures. Chisel and file marks, and the shape of the stone, are literally translated onto the paper. Each print is a unique image, since the rough texture of the stone never holds ink the same way twice.

My abstract acrylic paintings on canvas range from free-wheeling gestural works not unlike my “calligraphic” works on paper, to quieter, more contemplative works that may evoke ideas of landscape or sky. Landscapes ranging from the Canadian Shield, Baffin Island and the American Southwest to the Zen-inspired gardens of Kyoto influence my abstract paintings as much as they influence my sculptures.

I am excited about exploring the affinities between the seemingly disparate materials and methods of stone carving and working with paper or canvas, in sculptures, two-dimensional works, and installations.

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