Vandalized in Vain

Here is a video of the aftermath of an act of vandalism on a sculpture during the mold-making process. I’m sad, embarassed and disappointed that this horrible thing happened to the sculpture Ahmed Fadaam was working on.

“Welcome to the US, where we have this very precious, special thing called “Freedom” we’d like to share with you poor people of Iraq who have been beat down in your own country. Maybe you can learn from us!!”

What do you say to a man who has tried so hard to do the right thing -the best he can figure out what that is -from what I can tell? I watch him talk to people who ask him pretty tough questions about Muslims, about Baghdad, the war, Iraq, the treatment of women and he responds graciously.

Ahmed named this work “Civilization”, which he explained to me is a feminine word in his language and is considered a feminine quality, hence the title of the video is “Civilization Destroyed”.

The sculpture has now been repaired by Ahmed. Resilience.

Broken with my own hands

sketchbomber2  Usually I feel some kind of pain if my work is destroyed, but this one I broke myself and felt nothing. I held it in my hands and broke it into pieces. Then I fired the pieces in my kiln. Why would I do this? Why would I fire the broken pieces and save them?  It was a nice looking piece with potential. It received compliments from artists I respect during the sculpting process. I didn’t want it.

The sculpture itself wasn’t the problem. The problem is for the first time in my sculpture group I requested a pose for an important work that I must do. MUST do. Many times I have found a way to make the best of poses chosen by other people. This one time I needed something and I told them how important it was to me. No one else needed any pose in particular, yet they didn’t want to do mine. I felt intuitively like I was being undermined. …But instead of finding a nice, healthy assertive way to firmly request the needed pose or to back out of the session, I felt overwhelmed so I smiled and pretended everything was alright and I told jokes and sculpted. Then, after paying my money for the model and spending my time on this work, I took it home and when I was alone, I broke it. The pieces have been sitting in my garage for many months.  It took me this long to figure out why I did that.

I don’t want to live like that anymore.

A hand in it

DSC_2 0482 I spent yesterday at a studio space near Elon University, NC with my new friend, Ahmed Fadaam, a sculptor who now works as a journalist for the New York Times. He’s a visiting scholar at UNC Chapel Hill. The art school where he taught in Baghdad, Iraq was burned down after the war broke out.

Ahmed is finishing up a life sized sculpture of a woman which will be placed on the Elon campus. 

When I walked into the studio, the first thing I noticed was the overall beautiful flow of the lines in his work and then the excellence of the hands in his sculpture. There will probably be eighteen hands in total.

You can tell a talented sculptor by his or her skill with hands.

Ahmed asked if I wanted to touch it – to work on it and then he told me he wanted me to sculpt one of the hands -to use my own hand as a model. He laughed and said I could tell everyone I had a DSC_2 0486hand in it.

I was surprised and delighted, but also nervous that he might not be pleased with my work. I’ve never made a life sized sculpture and here Ahmed gave me the opportunity to help him with his. He let me make the clenched fist of the woman.

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Many people came into the studio. Ahmed was gracious with everyone. He invited people to touch the sculpture and answered a myriad of questions about Baghdad, the war, how women are treated, about his family and the meaning of this sculpture, including what each hand represents.

Ahmed has such a comforting, inviting presence. People are drawn to him.

Little black number

"Night Lotus" by Dale McEntire -photo by Kim Marchesseault 

“Night Lotus”, an intimately scaled, meditative, black steatite stone carving by Dale L. McEntire, invites us to ponder its flowing curves among angles; its rough, organic, earthiness against silky-smooth, refined surfaces; and lightening strikes of blinding white on midnight black.

Dale McEntire, Sculptor of “Night Lotus” says, “The sculpture ”Night Lotus “ is inspired by the concept of life and beauty evolving from the below the surface and enfolding into visible form. This is a metaphor that appears in ancient text in many cultures. The stone was quarried in Virginia and the opportunity to use natural surfaces incorporated with carved and polished surfaces is a major element in this work. My goal with sculpture is create positive images that are inspiring and uplifting.” 

I was thinking about carving a commissioned sculpture from this type of stone because the natural white streaks in it would be key to the work.   My stone carving teacher, Paris Alexander, said he has tons of it lying around. I looked at him and laughed. Anyone else who says they have tons of something lying around, you know it’s an exaggeration, but when a stone carver says they have tons of something lying around, they literally have tons.

ECU professor, Hanna Jubran, strolled by laughing and joking like he does while Dale was installing this piece in the Cary Sculpture Exhibition.  Dale had been a student of Hanna’s. They began discussing the difficulties with carving this type of stone. It’s beautiDale McEntire applies mineral oil to sculpture, ful, but Hanna said it was a health risk because basically it was like carving into talc. Breathing airborne talc particles would be similar to breathing in asbestos. Dale said he loved the way the stone carved and the way it looked but he had to wear a full face respirator while working this stone. Of course there’s no danger once you finish carving.

Before installation, Dale had the sculpture sitting on its side and you could see he had drilled a hole into the bottom of the stone and inserted a thread he could screw right onto the base. So clever.

On the left you can see Dale McEntire applying mineral oil to his sculpture as the finishing touch.

And then one day …it happened

"And Then One Day....It Happened" by Charles Brouwer -Photo by Kim Marchesseault 

Charlie Brouwer, sculptor of “And then one day …it happened” said “Recently most of my outdoor sculptures have been human figures. The ideas for them come from my personal experiences. Occasionally I experience, or think something that seems to resonate with meaning going beyond my personal life and I turn it into a sculpture. I hope viewers will recognize in these figures something of what it means to be human.

 

I make them out of locust wood that grows in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live.  Locust has been the traditional wood of choice for fence posts because it is extremely hard and very resistant to weather and rot. This also makes it a good material for outdoor sculptures. 

For each sculpture I use some locust directly from logs and limbs, and some that has been cut into lumber by sawmills. Together they suggest the way we humans seem to be both part of nature and products of our own invention.

 

We live in a difficult era – humans and the earth are in trouble on every front. I cannot make art without thinking about this situation. 

I find myself asking – how should we live, what should we do, what is beautiful, true, good, and important now?”

 

The wood looks wonderfully faded to almost white with a striding figure at the base undergoing a sudden metamorphosis -becoming a ladder reaching toward the sky.

I love philosophy in sculpture. I’m so lucky to have these close to my house.

I didn’t have the privilege of watching the installation process of this piece in the Cary Sculpture Exhibit so I took pictures afterward.  Here are a couple of handy tips for photographing sculpture.

1. Do not eat king crab legs the night before you take pictures no matter how succulent and delicious they look. The little spiky things in the shells poke into your finger tips and it’s really painful the next day when you’re trying to press the buttons on your camera.

2. Bring something to brush off bird poo from the sculptures with. I wish someone had said something to me before I went! Instead I had to use my hand.

3. Wear old clothes for rolling around in the dirt and grass.  Check your hair for grass, dirt and insects *before* you meet someone for lunch.

4. Don’t panic when the person in the office behind the sculpture you’re photographing looks wide eyed at you from their window and suddenly closes the blinds. At this point there’s still a good chance they won’t actually report you to the police as a stalker.

Seeds

seeds2 copyWhen I dreamt this one, I wasn’t sure how to make it. It took me a while to figure it out. “Seeds” came from a dream, but I think also it may have been inspired by a Japanese sculptseeds3ure we’ve had in our family since I lived in Okinawa as a child. I’ve made a lot of changes. I will post images of the Japanese sculpture soon.

There is a full female nude under the fabric on this one. The lady who modeled is really quite beautiful in real life by modern standards.

I’m not entirely done with the hands and a few other things. I was stumped for a long time by the birds because I don’t know much about birds. I’m sorry to all of you bird sculptors out there for my humble attempt.

I have a lot of dreams left to sculpt.

Liberation from the Obsequious Vestment

Liberation by Kim Marchesseault

I swear the model really posed like this! He says he never works out, either. I’ve been finishing this one up and just recently figured out what direction to go with it.

This one was going to be light hearted and all beauty, but I seem to have weighed it down with a giant title. Thing is, the title feels right to me so I’m going to leave it even if it means no one looks twice at it because it’s too deep.

I can do rainbows and sunshine and flowers too, just not in this piece.