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 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.
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.