"...the nurse of generation, moistened by water and inflamed by fire, and receiving the forms of earth and air, and experiencing all the affections which accompany these, presented a strange variety of appearances." Timaeus, Plato
Like a pendulum, the last 15+ years of my life have been characterized by vacillating periods of building up and tearing down, accumulation and loss. For some time now in my art practice, I have embraced a fair amount of the uncontrollable, but this body of work more fully explores the continuum of constructive and destructive forces.
As the Covid-19 shutdown stretched from weeks into months, I found it increasingly difficult to make work in my studio. I craved to be outside in the fresh air. I spent a lot of time on my back porch, and one object that revealed itself kept drawing me in. There was an old piece of wood I had salvaged from the riverbank. A small sapling had grown through a knot-hole in the timber, creating the illusion that this long-dead tree remnant had regenerated and come back to life. The concept of the "essential nature" of objects took root, an idea I began to explore in this new body of work.
I used materials on hand, leftovers from a back porch rebuild. At first, I worked under a yard umbrella, and then I purchased an event tent that I turned into an outdoor woodworking space. I mitered 4x4s into multiples of compound-cut wedges and re-combined them to create twisted forms. The transmogrification of these materials captivated me–from tree to milled lumber, back to curvy shapes resembling the material’s original state. I contemplated the humor and futility, in a way, of my actions and pondered the willfulness of my endeavors. I reveled in contrasting textures and colors, playing up the juxtaposition between the garish neon colors of hot pink "turf", the stark neutrals of charred "branch"-like forms, and the mineral white of salt "molars". Sometimes, the frustration building up inside me could only be satisfied by the cathartic act of setting something on fire.
"For from the communion of the internal and external fires, and again from the union of them and their numerous transformations when they meet in the mirror, all these appearances of necessity arise, when the fire from the face coalesces with the fire from the eye on the bright and smooth surface."