The 24th NWSSA Stone Sculptor's Symposium has come and gone. It was the 24th I have attended. 24 years of carving stone, sharing ideas, and creating friendships. Each year someone asks, "Aren't you tired of it?" or "Don't they become disappointing after a while?" I have often wondered about this myself. Why should I leave my well appointed studio, my organic veggie garden, my comfy bed to go to "summer camp for adults"???
In short, I believe the answer is in the connection I feel with people who love stone. These people are all different, from different backgrounds, different ages, but we share a compelling bond. This connection is magical for me. I truly don't understand it, but I know that it feeds my creative work, my artist soul.
Since so much of what this symposium is about has to do with people and what they share, I was delighted to be with old friends, young friends, long time friends, friends new to me. There were people I love, people I respect, people I admire. To be surrounded by such people while within the isolating cocoon of respirator, ear protection, goggles, and work tent filled me with content.
This year the field again buzzed with the sounds of hand chisels, angle grinders, die grinders, air hammers. Diamonds seem to be everyone's best friend. Being created were birds (a dove, penguins, a raptor), a tree with wings, human torsos of all shapes, and numerous curves, swoops, and angles. Stones being worked were marble, alabaster, limestone, basalt and others for which spelling eludes me.
As usual, we partied – at least a bit. The campfire was going most nights. The tenter's camp was solace for those wanting to connect with the outdoors. The famous auction, where we buy each other's stuff, was again a huge success with the proceeds going to support the scholarship fund. These things, along with the Friday night dance/party, got us all shaking our sore muscles, which of course, provided opportunities for more talking.
Nature gave us sun, rain, grass, mud, a full moon, and eagles overhead.
How could I not return each year? Each year has been totally different. Some years have been frenetic, some very mellow. Some years I have participated in everything, some years I felt like I mostly just breathed in the dust. But every year has filled me. I'll be back for the fabulous 25th anniversary of our International Stone Sculptor's Symposium next year! I hope to see you there.