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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight - Adrian Hoye

Adrian in the new shopI have always been a person who likes to take things apart and find what lies hidden inside. Maybe that is what draws me to carve stone: the idea that there is something within waiting to be released. I have been hesitant to call myself a sculptor. Sculptors are those other people. I do this as a hobby, but by creating sculptures I have slowly been able to accept the idea that yes, I am a sculptor.

This transformation has taken me most of ten years, about 18 sculpture symposiums, and about 30,000 miles of driving. Almost always, John Thompson, my friend and the person who started me down this path, has been right there in the truck helping with driving, loading, talking, and listening. Through the years, going to and coming home from these camps, we have talked and dreamed of what next. How could we start a studio, work stone year-round, feed off each other’s ideas and excitement, and maybe even teach others?

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Artist Spotlight - Renda Greene

Renda with A Gift From the Sea ShellI can’t remember a time when making art has not been a part of my life. My dad commented once that I was born with a pencil in my hand, and he did so much to keep those “pencils” around me.

In kindergarten, my favorite place was at the mini easels, spreading brightly-colored tempera on large sheets of newsprint. I wasn’t satisfied with a single-colored finger painting, and insisted on three or four colors that I would mix and blend, and I would use more than just my fingers to find different textures. Sandbox time would have me creating large piles of packed, damp sand that I would carve into turrets, towers, and moats, using popsicle sticks taken from the art corner. My kindergarten teacher was a very tolerant woman.

All through school, I gravitated to classes and projects that allowed for my need to create. This was difficult sometimes, as we moved almost every year during my middle school and high school years. I was able to take art classes the last two years of high school and got my first taste of stone carving when I released a small seal from a block of soapstone.

It was no surprise to family and friends when I entered college as an art major. Finances dictated that I would attend the local state school, though my father regretted that I didn’t get training of a more classical nature. I worked on the basics. Drawing: walking into that first class was an eye opener—my first exposure to drawing nudes; Painting: we did not make our own paints, but we did stretch our own canvases; Ceramics: my preference was hand building, a choice that was encouraged by the instructor Rudy Autio; and Sculpture: stone was not part of the curriculum—the teacher was into “found” and “performance” pieces.

 A Gift From the Sea Shell by Renda GreenrIt was an Art for Elementary Education Teachers class that influenced me most in my philosophy about my art. The class was not a required course for art majors, but it was taught in a space next to the painting studio, and I was fascinated listening to the lectures by the instructor, Richard Reinhardt. When I had the opportunity to take a few electives, I signed up.

Imagine sitting in a room with a bunch of young adults who probably hadn’t picked up a paint brush since grade school. In walks a normal-looking guy in a sport coat, and the first thing he does is jump up on a table and tell us to do the same (this is 1984, mind you, long before Robin Williams and “Dead Poets Society”.) As I already knew where this was going, I was the first up, and I gazed down at our soon-to-be teachers of children. Mr. Reinhardt told us to look around, and then asked us to take a seat on the floor and do the same. “Children,” he said, “see from all perspectives and use all of their senses, a process we lose as we become adults.” He then invited us to move about the area, viewing the space in different ways. Many students were still tentative, but over the next fifteen minutes, some were able to get over “looking stupid” and being uncomfortable and get very inventive with their “seeing”. Over the semester, supported by several more insights from Reinhardt, most of these folks bloomed in their creativity. On the day of finals, we presented projects we had worked on in small groups. It was heartening to see so many ideas and so much diversity in one space. 

I moved to Wyoming after graduation, with degrees in Fine Arts and Elementary Education and found myself unable to get a job in my chosen field, as I was overqualified. So I became an emergency medical technician and worked as a ward secretary in the local hospital. Both jobs kept me very busy. Still, I did find time occasionally to work on my art, and since the hospital was in a rural area with long drive times, my ability to think outside the box came in handy on difficult emergency calls. I did this for ten years and was beginning to feel the first twinges of burnout—not unusual in the profession. As often happens in life, an opportunity to move back to Missoula arose, and I jumped at the chance.

During a random perusing of an adult education course book, a beginning wood carving class caught my eye. I knew some carving techniques, but what really piqued my interest was that the class was taught at A Carousel for Missoula, one of my favorite places. The course was taught by Dick Withycombe and John Thompson, and after the completion of the ten weeks, I joined the Ponykeepers, the volunteer force behind the Carousel. As time went on, John reintroduced me to stone carving when he invited us to the studio in his home to see what he was working on (if you ever get the chance to do this, jump on it—pretty amazing space). It was John’s enthusiasm for the stone carving symposiums that had me signing up for my first symposium at Silver Falls.

House Humper by Renda GreeneI did carve at that first symposium—honest, I did. But mostly I immersed myself in the senses of carving, reflecting back to that class in 1984. I watched others carve using so many techniques it was almost overwhelming. I learned the sounds a stone makes when it is nearing the breaking point during the splitting process. I smelled and tasted stone dust on a daily basis, and mostly I touched, feeling a variety of stone in various stages of carving. I became “hooked”. I even purchased a piece of soapstone, the first of many, to be carved at home in my backyard.

That first piece of soapstone became House Humper—a play on words from a TV program I would watch occasionally. (12x8x9 photo 1) I had no clear plan other than that I wanted a small grotesque. I just listened to the stone as it told me what it wanted to be. If I found a curve to be pleasing to sight or touch, I expanded upon it and moved on. The filing, rasping, and sanding process helped to bring out more of the form, and when I did the final polish using bee’s wax, the colors of the stone were much deeper and intense than the water test had shown. This piece was entirely handwork, and I still run my hands over it, feeling its essence and adding mine to its polish. It is important to me that people are able to touch my sculptures as I believe that they add to the work when they do.

Kitters by Renda GreeneMy next piece, Kittersnamed by the present owner—(18x6x6) is a basalt crystal. Kitters declared himself when I was walking through a landscaping stone yard looking for a piece of basalt to test out my new diamond cutting/grinding blade and polishing pads. I used a 4.5" grinder to do all of the work, but the final buff was done by hand.

A Gift from the Sea-Shell (28x9x11) came about when I became enamored with the colors and patterns in a piece of Italian leopard marble I discovered on Tom Urban’s stone trailer. I sweated on this piece—quite literally. I used a myriad of tools, hand and powered, to bring out the shape the stone told me was within. As usual, the sanding and polishing process brought out far more color and nuances in the stone than I had observed in the back of the trailer, and at the finish of the project, so many people commented about how “hard that stone is”. Y’all couldn’t have warned me earlier? Still, I wouldn’t have done anything differently—it was a good stone to work with as I was healing from my heart surgery: A test to my resiliency.

 Imperfect HarmonyMy most-recently completed piece is Imperfect Harmony (16x9x11). I had a piece of alabaster sitting amongst my stone pile. The shape of a treble clef in a mobius form kept invading my thoughts, so when it was time to go to the 2018 Suttle Lake symposium, I brought it along and got started. It was pretty slow going, mostly because I was fighting health issues. The incomplete form came home with me to finish. I had a sense of urgency to complete it before November, because I was looking at heart surgery. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t listening to the stone and when one tap broke it into three pieces, I put my hammer and chisel down, and walked away, leaving it on my carving table. There it remained, while I moved on to getting through the surgery and the recovery afterwards. I passed it several times a day, working on other projects. Recently however, it called to me, and the stone told me to get on with it. I decided to use kintsugi to complete it. I found some gold “dust” and mixed it into epoxy and fit the pieces back together. Once they set up, I was able to file, rasp, and sand the stone into its finished form. After I polished it, the gold seams are barely visible, but they are there, and I’m ok with that.

I look forward to the future. John Thompson and Adrian Hoye have opened a stone carving space. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to join them. I feed off the energy of other carvers, locally, and at NWSSA symposiums. It’s all part of the process— so much stone to carve, so many lessons to learn.

Renda Greene
Roommates at Suttle Lake Camp Sheri Tangen and Renda Greene and Sue QuastJoy 9x6x7

Artist Spotlight - John Thompson

AND NOW THERE BE STONE…..  1. Scafti and me

For the last 25 years I have been sculpting and carving almost daily, but I came to this via a love of art and rocks in my childhood and then intaglio etching. I did the formal education thing, getting a Bachelor of Arts. I tried many things: drawing, painting, ceramics and photography. I have a 2000-pound etching press that was my artistic outlet, and for several decades I was a printmaker. Then an opportunity opened up, and now the press sits with dust on it and I am a dedicated and happy sculptor.

My introduction to sculpting came through wood carving. I began by drawing the horses that were to become the wooden ponies for the Missoula Carousel Project in 1991. I was the carousel “artist” with the opportunity to help design the more than forty carousel critters. I couldn’t resist the lure of carving and joined in the efforts to create the horses as well as designing them. I was hooked. Great carousels always have a ring machine to allow the riders to get the brass ring, and I decided ours needed to be a dragon. Since the carousel’s inception, I have added a 6’ x 6’ square Indiana limestone relief sculpture to the outside of the carousel building.

In 2008, I attended a stone sculpture symposium in Marble, Colorado and put a chisel to a piece of marble. WOWZA!! Since then, I have participated in a number of other symposiums—Silver Falls, Suttle Lake, California Sculpture—where I have taught wood carving and learned more about stone carving. Through these events, the NWSSA has been a great connection to amazing folks with a vast treasure trove of knowledge and skills. It is a wonderful gift that these people are all willing to share their knowledge and love of stone work.

To sculpt year-round in Missoula, Montana requires an indoor space, and so the Stone Studio came to life. My good friend and fellow sculptor Adrian and I found a space that was perfect for the need. With some great tools acquired (thank you Rick), we are busy making stone dust. I have discovered that my wood carving skills are applicable to stone. I go back and forth between marble, limestone, alabaster, and soapstone and am not sure which is most enjoyable. I have a love of hand tools, but find the air hammer and Dremel are my preferred methods at this time. I’m currently using the Dremel for detail carving.

My work with the carousel influences my stone carving. I love whimsy and humor. I like to make fun critters, real or imagined, and my wood carving has morphed into dragons and funny birds and funky creatures. I carve rocking critters for family, and upon commission, am now going to try to make a marble rocking critter from Carrara marble (thank you Carl). I don’t lack for ideas. I move from project to project. Some are simply to learn a skill and will not ever be a finished piece. There is always something either to learn or that needs to be created, and I “art” daily.

The work I did for and on the Missoula Carousel is my legacy to my children and grandchildren. As the first hand-carved wooden carousel created in the United States in 60 years, it is the largest public art project in the state of Montana. It was the inspiration for over fifteen other new carousel projects across the country. It also has been a tremendous inspiration to hundreds of people that they too can create and be artistic.

I enjoy teaching and sharing the skills I have. I have had the privilege to teach at many workshops and schools and have passed on the skills and wisdom from others who have taught me. I want everyone to see the value and joy of art in the world. It is my belief that if we are making Art, we will be happier and better people.

“Scafti and Me”  Actual size (I am about 5’7”) Photo at heading of this article
Scafti was designed and carved for the Missoula Carousel. It is the last critter I carved that will ride the carousel in Missoula. It was created after I had carved the dragon for our ring machine. The ring machine dragon is about 9 feet long and sits in a hand carved tree so that the riders reach for the brass ring as they are riding. As I was carving the ring-dragon, kids would want to know when they could ride it. Well who wouldn’t want to ride a dragon? Thus, Scafti happened. Scafti was carved from laminated basswood, all with hand chisels and gouges. It was painted by some of the carousel’s other great volunteers. I am proud to say it soon became one of the favorite critters on the carousel.

2. Gutter Goyle“Gutter Goyle”   L 29 " X H 8.5” X D 10”Gutter Goyle print
This was carved from a piece of Kansas limestone fence post. I cut a channel in the bottom for the gutter with an angle grinder and chisels. I then roughed out the critter with an air hammer. It was “finished” with hand chisels, files and scrapers. It sits proudly in the flower bed waiting for rain.

“Stone Hinge”   L 9” X H 6” X D 5”
This was carved from a piece of Wenatchee soapstone as a demo-piece for one of my workshops I was teaching in Washington. It of course happened after a trip to England—not sure what the inspiration was.  The hinge is painted with acrylic, and the stone was painted with a clear wax and a tinted floor wax.

“Column Fragment”  L 10” X H 8.25” X D 7.5”
Carousel limestone panelsThis is carved from Wenatchee soapstone. I try to convince folks that it is something I found on one of my trips to Europe and managed to bring it home hidden in my carry-on. I really enjoy looking at all the fragments and minute carvings that all of our previous stone artists have left us to find. The critter design on this piece is from a sketch of some carvings I saw on a cathedral wall in France. It was carved with hand chisels and files.
Column fragment
“Carousel Limestone Panels”  L 6’ X H 6’ X D 2.5”
I was able to convince the other folks on the carousel advisory board that we should have a “small” limestone panel on the outside of our new addition to the carousel building. I thought something about the carousel might be good. I told them we could probably find someone willing to do the carving. Yep! I roughed out the six individual panels (Indiana limestone) in the garage studio using my air hammer and chisels. We then installed the panels on the building and I “finished” carving them in place. This was to let folks watch and advise (tell me what I was doing wrong). It was carved using air hammer and hand chisels, files, scrapers. It was a very enjoyable project. I could pick my and my grandkids’ favorite critters from the carousel to carve. It is also very humbling when I walk by the building and see where I could improve and tweak the carving. Well who knows—I still have my tools and may do some after-hours work. 
6b. Carousel limestone panels relief

 “Sleepy Dragon-Boring Book”   L 22” X H 14” D 14” Sleepy dragon boring book
This is a piece of Colorado marble. I was able to attend the symposium at Marble, Colorado last summer. I actually had a plan of what I was going to carve. Yep—registered late and the stone I needed was not available. I chose a different, smaller stone, and after an afternoon of playing with my air hammer, this critter started appearing. This stone was in the truck with us as we drove to Suttle Lake a couple weeks later. So I worked on it there too. It followed me to our new carving studio in Missoula. I have been carving and finishing it up in our new digs.  I am working with air hammer and using the Dremel for detail carving.

The New Studio
This is a photo of Adrian and my new work space. It is the front half of a friend’s quonset. We are pretty excited and are now carving stone about three days a week. It is a work in progress but already proving to be a great space. We are not sure where this is going, but it sure is going to be fun.
In April, I will be getting a 3600-pound piece of Carrara marble delivered (thanks Carl). That should help keep me off the streets and out of trouble.

Photo of me working on the panels at the carousel. Life size. I am 5’7” tall (taller when I am on the ladder, shorter when I am sitting down)

Limestone Relief Critter”   L 12” X H 12.25” X D 1.25” limestone relief critter
This was a practice piece out of Indiana limestone started before I was to carve the relief carving for the carousel. It was carved using my small air hammer and hand tools. I am finishing it up with the Dremel and some scrapers.

Prometheus Dragon by John Thompson“Prometheus Dragon”     L 12.5” X H 9.5” X D 7.5”
This was carved from Wenatchee soapstone using hand tools and files. This was carved as a sample for a workshop I was teaching. I wanted to try to get more detail in the soapstone carvings folks were doing.

Group photo: Renda Greene, John Thompson & Adrian Hoye

Artist Spotlight: Eirene Blomberg

Transfiguration 2012 Carrara Marble and Black Onyx 18.5in tall 2nd            I am a maker and creative being to the core. I have painted, woven, felted, sculpted, sketched, and more, but still hadn't thought of myself as an artist. I knew that I needed to create in order to stay balanced and centered in my life. Art was more of a by-product of what I was doing — whether that was cooking, baking, gardening, or basket-weaving, art would infiltrate in as a driving philosophy, both consciously and subconsciously. Growing up in California, I took art classes in high school and entered college as an art major. Intimidated by the art world, I quickly switched majors and ended up getting a degree in Cultural Ecology with an emphasis in agriculture and became a gardener and herbalist by trade.

           Eirene sketching on stone I spent the next few years working on Organic and Biodynamic farms in Indiana, New Jersey, and Tennessee. Eventually I landed on 150 acres in the backwoods of Tennessee where a lifelong dream of homesteading with a small community of friends was brought to fruition. Five years later, yearning for the waters and mountains of the Pacific Northwest, I ended up settling in Washington State on Lopez Island. I still live there today with my husband and daughter in the home we built. I did a lot of exploring and creating during this period but I didn’t do much classic ‘art.’

            It was not until I was dealing with a medical condition in 2012 that I really opened up to  art again. In the process surrounding my condition I thought a lot about the finite reality of life, and the dreams I still wanted to manifest. Sculpting stone was high on that list, so I contacted Tamara Buchanan, a local stone sculptor and long time NWSSA member. We scheduled a class a few weeks out. As soon as I put chisel to stone I was hooked, and have been carving stone ever since. Tamara has been my teacher, mentor and dear friend, sharing her studio, tools, and wisdom. Working with Tamara Buchanan, taking classes, participating in Symposiums and being a member of the NWSSA have all played very key roles in my development as a stone sculptor. 

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Artist Spotlight: Kirk McLean

Seedling Kirk McLeanMy first serious encounter with stone was a mixed-materials piece in 1982, featuring a 300-pound granite glacial erratic that I had dragged from the woods. Working on this piece got me totally hooked on stone and particularly on granite. Since my training was in metal casting and fabrication and I knew nothing about carving stone, I naturally decided to become a stone sculptor.

My art in the three-and-a-half decades since divides into three phases: eighteen years of abstract granite and basalt sculptures in human scale, a decade of chasing the metaphor of a tree growing from rock, and my recent series using visual metaphors autobiographically. My process has always started from a vision that pops into my mind suddenly, although often after I’ve been thinking about a subject for some time. I work the design further in my head and on the stone, rarely using drawings or maquettes. When I did the Rock Becoming Tree series, the essence of my sculpture became conveying the metaphor using a limited number of symbols. In the Love & Loss series that I just finished, the most important feature was communicating emotion."New World" Soapstone 2014 Kirk McLean

The recent change in my work came from my wife Judy’s illness and death from Alzheimer’s Disease. Family caregivers for someone with dementia die at a rate sixty-three percent higher than the general population, because the experience is so exhausting and traumatic. After her death, I felt totally crushed and floundering in a world with no meaning. Caregivers are encouraged to write about their experience in order to process their grief. I decided, instead, I would use my years of training to make sculptures about it.

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Artist Spotlight - Cyra Jane Hobson

My identity as an artist is embedded deep in my psyche; for me there is no choice and there is nothing else. Yeah, I do other things, but creation is a primary force of my personality, and the narrative I live is entwined with my artwork in a way that it is the literal visual record of my experience. I use art to purge, to define paths, and to embark on new journeys.

As a child growing up in the stark farmland of Illinois, surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans, I dreamt of growing up to be a published poet, performing opera singer, or professional visual artist. In higher education I trained in the first two, up through degrees in writing and choral competitions while painting secretly in my room. I refused teachers in visual art until much later, intent on developing my voice first. And while I had always considered visual art to be the least strong of the three for me, it’s what ended up becoming my dominant path over the course of my 20s.

Partly, the reason for that is how my narrative, my personality, and my creativity melded. For me, my art is my breath. I wither and suffocate without paints, stone, or tools. I have nightmares of losing my hands and won’t ski or ice skate or otherwise put them in danger.

I painted almost exclusively until 2009, until coming home from a 3 month walkabout to 11 major cities in Europe and North America. I went to every art museum, letting myself be drawn where the magnets were. The stone statues in particular—I was so mad they wouldn’t let me touch them. So at some point, I gave myself permission to make my own so that I could: I gave myself permission to sculpt. the Knife

So I came home and dove into whatever I could learn. I joined a Burning Man blacksmithing collective where we made large-scale pyrotechnic art. I interned at Pillow Studios with a kinetic steel and glass artist. I was accepted to a residency at The James Washington Foundation, initially for steel fabrication, but they let me switch to stone work and make a huge dusty mess in his studio. Stone work… it felt like medicine. And I needed medicine, so I ran toward it.

My first major piece was “The Knife,” and through the process of working on it for 175 hours (the initial sculpture 120, the bronze castings 55), I discovered something of a drawn–out process of mapping my subconscious on a particular theme. I already knew I could manipulate my experience with reality through what I was making, but this was something different: I could actually dive into my thoughts without reacting to them and just observe while my hands were busy doing detail work with X-acto knives and dental picks. Like most of my major works, the end image of “The Knife” came to me fully formed: in a flash second, my eyes white over and there, the construction (or substruction) of the piece crystallizes in front of me. I know every moment of the surface before I even begin. Then, I just have to make it.

“The Knife” was a study of emotional defenses, in short, a hard look at everything I was doing to misguidedly “protect” the emotional, soft sides of me that I’d locked away somewhere. A katabasis journey into the dark, seeking out those parts of me and looking at which behavioral guardians jumped up in the way to distract me from finding them. Every feeling and thought on this was mapped onto the surface of that sculpture.

"The Dragonfly on my Shoulder" Brucite. 2018. #7 of the Katabasis Series. The final shedding of the exoskeleton; A molting. The result of that really captured me, and I created seven major works with this particular method, choosing themes that could take me somewhere stronger, somewhere more open. Chlorite was perfect for it. Smooth and consistent, working with the stone wasn’t a struggle. I love brucite and this crazy old marble I’m working in now, but surfacing and detailing is a serious challenge because of inconsistent densities that need too much attention. I’m moving into basalt, which is also nicely consistent, as I’m looking to work in life–size figurative. I’d also like to get back on track for public work, so the durability is very attractive, too. Still, the last piece of the series was in brucite, as it couldn’t be in anything else. “The Dragonfly on My Shoulder” (2018) was the final molting, as a new me, whole and integrated, shed its last skin. A lot of people react to the imagery with the little alien bug face crawling out of the back of a dragonfly nymph as creepy, but all I remember is that first breath of fresh air and the intense beauty of becoming. 

But let’s talk here of some of the side missions I’ve gone on with stone carving. Not every piece could be that kind of intense psycho-emotional journey, and often those would take me well over a year to get through, so I’d take a month or so off to explore another theme. Plus, I could fill a book with that narrative (ooh, foreshadowing!) Still, I have such a method built in now that each of these proved rather intense experiences as well.
"Something of a Shearing" Chlorite, bronze, mahogany. 2014-2017. The quite literal journey of moving to an island and building a studio; the sculpture began first.
“Something of a Shearing” was a fairly long term side story, and the full narrative of it was published in this journal a few years ago after it was finished in 2016. It first came into being when I decided to start working in 3D—for months my entire perception of the world was from inside the top of a lighthouse, the gears moving it slowly as my focus and visualizations shifted. At first it was a painting; then I determined to make it a stone carving. It quite literally became the story of building my studio. I started it at Pillow Studios, where my boss was kind enough to let me do stone work outside the metal shop, and worked on it at eight different places, taking it with me through my travels and journeys that led me to Vashon. The last little part of it was turning on the light in my greenhouse when I had finally landed on Vashon for good. The weeks leading up to finishing it were mostly up at Studiostone in Vancouver (all the fitting and polishing), then at Tom Small’s place (where I made the base), and during this time as it was coming to life it started to walk beside me rather than up on my shoulder. It pulled off of me like some sort of budding and became its own little creature.

"Foremother" Australian ring marble, uranium glass. 2017. “Foremother” (cover image) was the next side–mission in 2017, and perhaps the first that was truly a concept piece from the start. I had this ancient marble from Neolithic, with some of the earliest fossils in it and the opportunity to cast some uranium glass. I’d been feeling the idea of offerings lately and decided to do a piece about cyclical reproduction—the unstoppable drive for renewal. What it will feel like for Gaia to repopulate life after we destroy it. And part of what it feels like to be being flayed open right now. I spent about two months on this, all told, and it was incredibly intense. I hadn’t really known where I was going to go emotionally with it. At one point we got into a fight when I found out she had no skin. I fell head-first into her anger and the ground beneath me turned solvent; I ended up in the woods, charging overdressed and overheated, the trees pulsing and guttural screaming around me. It was coursing through me. So what do you do with that? Shower, eat, self care, and listen. Then finish the piece and kind of decide not to go back there again.

Yeah, it’s kind of like method acting. 
icanbreathinthiswater.jpg - "I Can Breathe in this Water" Marble. 2018. A wash in the feminine.
“I Can Breathe in this Water” was a piece done in translucent marble for the Seattle Erotic Art Festival in 2018. She was based on a commission by a woman who was moving across the country, pulled from her lover, as a parting gift. The figure is based entirely in hearts and exudes femininity, submission, and seductive power. This was really a fun one. It was spring in the studio, and I spent every day just awash in my feminine side. I bought dresses and makeup. I danced. I really loved working on her, and this particular marble is such a joy. This stone was quite sugary, so I was released from sharp edges, and the curves all had to be so soft. It filed like a dream, and the metal veins ended up emphasizing the contours better than I could have planned.
"Reconcile (the Mother)" Marble. 2019. Pulling out my bloodline
“Reconcile (The Mother)” is a terrible title, but I haven’t come up with a better one yet. It’s one of my best pieces so far though. Made this spring, 2019, I initially thought it would be about my own relationship with my mother, though going into that didn’t really thrill me. It’s the same marble from above, and a solid piece of it. So gorgeous to work on—there were moments it took my breath away and I cried in joy. After having spent something like 350 hours already carving hands, this entire sculpture happened quite quickly, 83 hours overall. What I didn’t expect was for it to be more about my own decision not to have children. First of all, when I started, it opened up this tunnel back to my birth, and all my memories were happening kind of at once. I’m having to do things like go to the grocery store and be ‘normal’, while wide open so far that, inside, I’m reliving screaming at birth and the intensity of pure infant emotions and looking through wounds, stitching them together. My arms were searing. And then my body decided it was pregnant. This hasn’t ever happened to me before, and of course I wasn’t. I’m an adult with an IUD. But my body was convinced, and I had all the signs. I went through all the “what ifs” the “how would I handle it” the “would I want this?” to the “if so would I change my lifestyle while I still have time?” Oh lord. It was a lot. I ended up taking a test to just stop the questions. I went back to living in the portal until the sculpture was complete and did in fact make some peace with my mother. I got a pair of kittens. And then all that receded into the distance. In progress. Australian ring marble.

I’ve started working on another piece of the ancient marble now; a piece about the acceptance of failure and moving on with grace and dignity. It may not turn out. The surface is a struggle, so the anatomy isn’t ending up correctly. I’m ok with it. It will do what it wants with my narrative and that will be the truth.
Overcurrents(cover)(actualized)" Chlorite, marble, steel, silk. 2015-2018. #3 in the Katabasis Series. Also in the Kinesics series. The release of anger.