August 28, 2009

Wings Too Short to Fly With

As an artist it is often necessary to change focus abruptly and expeditiously in order to survive as a creative person. This means switching seamlessly from art teacher to studio artist to entrepreneur. Donning various hats on short order is not always easy - especially when settled into one frame of working mind for an extended period of time. Needless to say, my summer teaching jobs left me inspired but rusty in my own studio. I have often heard it said that teaching art can be so consuming of one’s energy that it can become all but impossible to pursue one’s own creative work. After a long but necessary hiatus from the studio to travel and teach I could sense my lack of concentrated presence as I sat down to get back to my own studio to work.
Indeed, I picked up my clay with my brain commanding me to "create!" "sculpt!" "now!" But all I could do was hold the clay and stare vacantly at the wall.
But then a curious thing happened. Despite being tired a small clay figure arose from my hands - senseless at first and uninspired - but slowly his form took shape. He was a man, sitting up from a long sleep perhaps, with his hands pressed over his ears to block out some cacophonous sound.
I added small wings to his back and made up a preposterous explanation about the sculpture for my inquiring husband.
"You see, it is about an angel distraught at having only very tiny ineffectual wings. He closes his ears with his hands to drown out the other angel’s songs because he cannot fly up to heaven to be with them," I said. Words like that come from a tired person’s mouth. There was a hint of self-deprecating mockery.
The winged man was originally intended to be a fixture in one of my relief mosaics. But there was a problem with his becoming too much a figure in the round and now a free-standing sculpture. Now that he could not be included in a relief mosaic I had to do something else with him. So I created a round pedestal and affixed him to it. The pedestal looked like a lid. But a lid needs a jar so I ended up making that as well - an enormous coiled vessel. I had never made a coiled vessel so large and was surprised that I could do it. It will barely fit in my kiln and I am hoping that it won’t explode when I finally fire it and put this piece together.
My man of the stump wings soon had compatriots - more reclining men that will soon find there way into my "Archaeology" series of mosaics. With these three, this series takes a different turn
The figures are not resting quietly like the previous ones in this series but are in some distress - blocking out sounds with their hands, holding their poor beleaguered heads. Even though they will go their separate ways in finished pieces, I noticed that they look well as an ensemble. So from wings too short to fly with, new directions in art evolve.

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