While my visual art has primarily been geared to painting and drawing, I occasionally do some sculpture. Three-dimensional design is high energy and compelling. The factors of gravity and balance are a delightful challenge, and they ground me in what’s real. Instead of a painting exhibit, I offered to do a January 2011 sculpture exhibit at the Park Forest Library in Dallas, primarily because this branch has four glass cases excellent for displaying sculpture, but not so much for paintings, which have to be small and propped up in four 3-D spaces each about 24” x 24” x 48”.
Once I realized that I needed a few more sculptures to round out my first choices for this exhibit, I had a great time this past fall nailing and gluing and painting. The energy is so high that I definitely could turn out a couple of these every week for … how long? I don’t know. Let’s say X, X being equal to whatever amount of timespace and energy is necessary to work out whatever sculptural karma needs working out …
However, not only did I call for a hiatus on sculpture energy for a while as I assess the direction of my visual art, but space limitations alone will hold down the number of sculptures I make. Even the smallish ones I make take up a lot of room. They can’t be stacked like paintings, or hung on the wall. And eight cats pose a direct threat to their continued existence.
The gamma burst of sculptures this fall made me realize how important sculpture is to me, and I was surprised to realize, as I reviewed old photos going back to college days, how many I’ve made. Not a huge amount, maybe seventy to a hundred, but I can see several recurring themes in them.
Sculptures have always been fun and easy to make because I’ve rarely thought of them as “art,” just a sort of glorious 3-D exercise, and my materials are frequently leftover wood from constructing painting stretchers or bookcases, offhand debris that doesn’t seem like expensive art supplies. But they can be balanced, glued and nailed and painted. They are balanced slabs and struts, with right angles dominating, like demented architectural models. Their meaning is simply themselves; they’ve never needed to express emotions or philosophies. And when they outlived their usefulness, or collected too much dust or became household clutter, I’ve easily deactivated the things, often using their wood for new sculptures. Most of my sculptures no longer exist.
I find I can gaze into and through them in fascination, discovering new relationships between the parts, new spaces. I can muse on their self-evident forms and postures and gestures. I call them meditation objects for that reason.