Philosohy and Process:
The source of my inspiration is nature. As a Hoosier country boy, the forms and changes of nature impact me greatly. As an educated American man, the assumptions and ideas of our culture also affect my perspective. I choose to work abstractly, trying to give form to my emotional responses to the mysteries around me.
Philosophically, I see man as a part of nature and nature as a flux of energy. My work embeds references to the human figure with geologic and organic forms and images of growth and decay.
As I work, I look for forms and abstract relationships that convey a sense of energy, mystery and power. Though we all read abstraction through the filter of our individual experience, it is my hope that there is enough universality in my references that the sympathetic viewer will be awakened and nourished as the work reveals itself.
My working processes involves chance, intuition and improvisation. Chance is used in the "automatic writing" way I draw sketches, carve forms, choose stones and smear plaster for models. My intuition guides my hands and eyes as I react to forms, proportions, line and texture. Improvisation is the whole package. I rarely set out to express a known idea, rather I follow my emotional response to discovered form. Over time, a vocabulary of form and technique emerges and evolves.
My primary medium has been hand built clay fired to cone 8 stoneware temperature. I choose this medium because I fell in love with clay as a child and rediscoverd it as an undergraduate. One works with it directly. It's forms and surface may be manipulated in many ways. Glazes and stains give beautiful colors. It magically transforms when fired. It turns out that it holds up well outdoors (think bricks).
When I am doing clay sculptures I usually work on a number at a time. I use fat coils and put on one a day then pinch these to raise the sculpture by about 4". When I finish building, I scrape and burnish the surfaces. The "fractured" areas are picked with an ice pick like tool when the clay is nearly dry. I bis fire, then stain with copper and spray glazes and stains. Glaze firing is to cone 8 in reduction.
In 2005 I melted a big ball of microcrystaline wax someone had given me 10 years earlier and cast thin slabs. I softened the slabs of wax in a warm water bath, cut them, bent them, rolled balls between my fingers, welded pieces together with a hot tool, scraped and planed surfaces. Wax can be used a lot like clay, but it can be altered at any time, is very tough and maleable and can be cut appart and reassembled. It gave me a lot of freedom, opened up into planes and edges and was an enjoyable change. The resulting bronze sculptures were in a more elegant medium, with fine detail and beautiful patinas.
In 2009 I began another line of work I pursue occassionally. I visit my family in Wabash, go out to the countryside and find stones deposited by glaciers thousands of years earlier. These stones are very hard, granite, quartzite and basalt. They reveal their age by their rough texture, cracks and rounded surfaces. Most are metamorphic stones, having melted and solidified in the belly of the earth. Some are conglomerates with colorful chunks floating within the stone. When you cut into them with diamond blades and polish their surfaces they are astoundingly beautiful. I choose stones with interesting shapes, cut and grind them minimally to define planes and edges and then build off of the resulting form with wax into extrapolated shapes. The wax forms are cast as bronze and patinated to harmonize or contrast to the stone. The result is visual puzzle, a unified whole made up by a found natural object wedded to a mental projection from that object into a new, beautiful visual experience.