After two and half decades of membership in the NWSSA I thought I would share a few observations and thoughts on who we are and what we do.
In the spring of 1991, while working on a design project in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, I ran into an old friend and mentor, Everett Dupen. He was the former head of the sculpture department at the University of Washington where I received both my BFA and MFA. He excitedly expressed his enthusiasm in meeting a group of stone sculptors and encouraged me to attend a symposium they were having in early summer at a place called Camp Brotherhood. Stone was always my preferred medium for personal expressive sculpture. At the time and for the past number of years my energy had been focused on social and environmental art. The return to personal expression and the visceral allure of stone propelled me to attend.
Arriving, I absorbed what was happening in this extraordinary environment. I experienced a transformation. The feel of community was immediate and warmly embracing. Full supportive resources of material, tools, and instruction was there to receive. Each participant was subtracting chip by chip, layer by layer their vision embedded in the stone they now embraced.
How and why? This was not some militarized artisanal boot camp nor was it some hierarchical art academy with its cannons of performance and its standards for righteous achievement. This seemed to be a focused community thriving in a nurturing supportive setting. The participants, regardless of experience or recognized achievement, seemed to be flourishing in each other’s company. It was amazing. I had stumbled into an experience of such deep and resonant personal value, a culture of trust and sharing. I needed to embrace and commit myself to this community like so many others have done.
I came to know the vision and goals of the core establishing members: Vic Picou, George Pratt, Meg Pettibone, Tamara Buchanan and others.