As my latest small group show opening approaches, I find myself wondering what my process really is. The theme for this Cambridge Art Association (CAA) sponsored event was proposed and submitted by the other four members of our group before I was even a working member.
I didn’t give it much thought at first other than liking the sound of the idea, Process Explored. It wasn’t until I understood that our group would be responsible for developing the idea and doing all of the promotion for the show (not to mention actually making, installing and showing our work) – that I began to grapple with conveying this seemingly basic concept.
Ok, so process is something that is fundamental to the very act of stone carving. This shouldn’t be too difficult. Just grab a few images of stone in various stages; raw blocks, rough out, show some of the process marks left by hammer & chisel, diamond cutting discs, inline air hammer and refining finishing….
But, it’s more than that. Back it up — where do the forms come from? Hmm..
Fashion is one of my latest forms of inspiration. What I like to refer to as ‘extreme fashion’. And, dance. Any and all forms of dancing figures. Sound. Music, there’s movement there. Listening through ear protection as I carve. It creeps into my body. Feet, hips, arms – fingers..
Wait.., back it up even more. There are flashes.. Sometimes when I’m walking through the woods with my three dogs. Or, early morning. Waking up watching the play of moving shadows on the wall. Clouds. These moments of stillness and meditation are all very necessary parts of the creation process.
Then, drawing. Putting the most persistent images down on paper. Simple images or even words, iterate, refine – switch to plastilina or foam or air block or even stone / wood. Make a rubber mold and pour a copy using; wax or resin.
Next step, look into some stone – literally. If I’m lucky, I might look down into a quarry pile and see a piece that speaks directly to me. If not, I break out the ruler and all the math I can muster..
What if something unexpected happens! Incorporate – Repair – Reorient!
Should I include the endless hours of staring? Looking to see if the lines work properly. Making sure that your own mind hasn’ttricked you into believing that the form is truly lovely – finished. When it really isn’t..
Of course, over time I’ve learned not to analyze any of this too closely. I’ve found that the more I try to define it the more illusive my process becomes. It doesn’t help to keep picking at it trying to peel back the layers and really ‘see’ what’s going on in there. For some reason, the closer I look – the more ephemeral it becomes and- it will dissipate- like vapor.