Henry Moore wrote in warning to painters and sculptors, not to speak or write very often about their job as it can make them more theorist than artist. It was though in a book all about him discussing his work. I agree with what he says, in that making the sculpture is the exploration of whatever it is that drives me to do so. Discussing it takes away from that need. However, me pointing at my work when questioned about my influences generally makes for a brief unsatisfactory conversation. So, I’ll give a bit of insight into my background instead. I’ll skip the list of artists that I like and have influenced me as it is far too long to put here and would probably be incomplete anyway. Shapes and their interaction are what draws my eye. Growing up in coastal Maine and visiting family in Hawaii I was introduced to rocks at an early age. The glacial scars in Acadia and the large boulders that came with them were part of my landscape. Seeing lava become stone as it fell into the ocean and the patterns made as it flowed were certainly an influence. Even though art by its definition is not supposed to have a function, I love the shapes of things that do. Wings, tools, gears, arches and bridges to name a few. I spent as much time looking at the flying buttresses on the Chartres Cathedral as I did at the Rose window. Rock climbing and caving brought me up close and personal with what shapes water and gravity can produce over time. Visiting the Mayan temples in Tikal and Yaxha was an incredible experience and a great way to stay humble as a stone carver. Now, why I find these things interesting and why I make sculptures influenced by them is yet another discussion that goes back to Moore’s comment. I also think to delve too much into it takes away from the viewer’s experience. I do hope people enjoy the sculptures in their own way as they certainly take on a life of their own after they leave the studio.
People ask me how I go about making a sculpture. There is a standard joke among carvers is to reply, I simply remove everything that doesn’t look like a … and it’s done. This is the reality. My challenge is that generally I don’t know what … will be. Typically, I work toward a general idea instead of a specific piece. There is no discovery in making what I already know. My method is to let, for lack of a better word, the subconscious, reveal or discover a sculpture instead of producing something pre planned. I suppose it is comparable to doodling, but with chisels instead of a pen. When the final product is unknown, one can take more risks during its creation. My best adventures have come from trips that weren’t based on a specific schedule. I had a professor who would tell us “It’s NOT about the finished product.” It took me a while to figure out what he was talking about, especially as the finished product was what we would be graded on. His statement, as I interpreted it, was that during the creation of each piece, you learn things that can be applied to the next piece and so on. There are quite a few learning moments that occur using this approach.