Second “Why” Question

My artwork is an expression of my faith. Each piece is intuitive and emanates from personal thoughts, ideals and experiences. My earliest paintings were  literal interpretations of various biblical scriptures.  Recent drawings and paintings are an expression of the beauty I see in creation.   I am fascinated by the beauty of light as it passes through plants and creates dancing shadows on surfaces.  Even though my work is grounded in the Christian faith, that faith is not without questions. In Genesis 1: 24-28 it states that God created all of the land animals and finished with creating mankind commanding that man “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” Mankind was also given “dominion over” all living things or in some translations “to rule” over them.  Fill the earth to what point? What does it mean to subdue the earth? To what end? What does it mean to have dominion over all living things? How should we regard the lives of animals?    What is humanities responsibility to “the fishes of the sea, birds of the sky and the animals over all the land”? My most recent piece is a sculpture that questions humanities “dominion” over the animals, the sanctity of life, and the traditional interpretation in the book of Genesis.


The Long Now – A Reflection

Sometimes it seems that modern man creates things as if to say “IWAS HERE”  like carving your initials in a tree trunk.  We seem to be afraid that we have not left enough of a mark on the world and some day we will be completely forgotten.  Creating an enormous underground clock that is designed to keep time for 10,000 years is a fantastic feat of engineering and a really cool idea. Their premise though is to change an entire cultures thinking about time and to encourage people to think beyond the immediate “now” to the now of 10,000 years in the future.  If the goal is to just create something gigantic for future man to discover that we did exist and that we must have been intelligent to have created something as wondrous as this clock, then this might work.  However, it will take the involvement of a much larger section of our culture to change a way of thinking. It takes thinking about leaving something useful (like a healthy planet) for prosperity and teaching each generation to come to do the same.  It will take more involvement than encouraging visitors to come to see it and help wind it. As big as it is (200 ft), its scope is too small.  In the end I fear its final message will be “We were here”.

MART Theory week 6 post


This is my first sculpture.  As with all of my work, the piece chose the medium. Clay has never sparked my imagination and until this sculpture, has been avoided.   All the babies and animals are made from clay.  These needed to be made from a medium that was mold-able allowing me to be physically involved in the creation of each creature, a tactile process that couldn’t be achieved with another medium.  I allowed the pieces to remain unfired.  In the green-ware state, clay is very fragile.  This represents the fragility of life.  The cages are made from wire fencing that is marketed to be used to keep small animals either in or out. Each is handmade and rather imperfect, as if the person creating barrier really doesn’t care about the safety of the animal.    I originally began with the idea of using clay infants as symbols for animals and placing them in cages and other situations that people wouldn’t place a child in but find acceptable for animals.  Using symbols for the animals allows the viewer to think about the concept and message of the piece without being “turned-off” by something shocking or heart wrenching. People tend to dismiss or completely ignore images that make them too uncomfortable.  I changed to using a combination of animals and infants because using only infants could lead the viewer to an unintended message that would be addressing issues that I did not want to address.  It was then decided to use symbolic animals created from kitschy slip molds, allowing the viewer to consider the meaning of the piece at a comfortable emotional distance.  Using slip molds repeatedly for so many animals and infants limited the variety of the piece that could allow for people to read the animals as toys rather than symbols.  I then began creating some of the domesticated pets through hand modeling.  This allowed for a greater variety of shapes and body language in the animals.  The infants were created from a handmade plaster mold from parts of an old, plastic baby doll.  Arms, legs, torso and head were all formed separately allowing for each infant to be posed differently.

This piece will be finished with a hand built lamb placed in the center of the enclosure. It was suggested that I use a real lamb, but outside of the obvious practical issues, the lamb is also symbolic so therefore needs to be hand built like the rest of the sculpture.

Theory Entry #4: Progress Report


My work this semester is a sculptural installation that attempts to make the viewer think differently about humankind’s’ biblical relationship with God’s creation, especially animals that have become commercialized in American culture. I began the project knowing what I wanted the work to convey, but not knowing exactly what the end product would be or how to accomplish it.  Through discussions and researching other artists, I finally settled on placing clay figures of animals in small metal cages and then arranging the cages to create an enclosed area. In the center of the area would be a semi-realistic lamb. 

This work has presented many challenges. The first challenge was to figure out what the end product would look like:  the image that would best convey the message. The next challenge was to determine materials and methods.  I have never really enjoyed working with clay and therefore have not worked with it much, but it seemed like the best medium for creating all the figures.  Making molds and using existing molds of animal figures seemed like the most efficient way to create a multitude of small animal figures.  This whole process has been time consuming. Some of the figures are turning out well.  I’m still trying to figure out how to include the figure of a calf.  The cages are coming along – about half are completed.  The materials for the platform have been purchased and will be assembled by next weekend.  The lamb, in the center of the sculpture, will need to be hand built.  This worries me.  How to build it and make it life like will be a major challenge.

The only victory will be at the end of the semester when the project is complete – and hopefully deemed a success.

MART Blog – Entry Number 3


Can art exist (or be made) in a vacuum?


Following the documentary “Never Sorry” –Ai WeiWei- and subsequent discussions we discussed context in art.  The above question can be framed in a nature vs. nurture model (as we learned in our discussion the other night) but is not limited to this as such.  You are asked to ponder this general question of the role of context in art and are welcome to address your own work as well. 

Artists have an inherent (nature) drive to make a visual commentary of their surroundings, be it a replica of nature or a political statement.  What role does culture (nurture) play in the creation of art?  If a hermit creates a drawing from his/her surroundings, is it art? What is the hermit’s culture?  Can there be a culture of one?  What about Ruby the Elephant? Her caretaker noticed how she would take a stick in her trunk and scratch at the ground.  She was then given paints, brushes, canvas, and an easel.  Her most expensive painting sold for $25,000.  Were her paintings a response to her culture?  What was her culture?

In an Intro to Art Therapy course, I learned how a person (including non-artists) can express their subconscious thoughts and feelings using “art materials.”  Most people live within a societal culture. A person’s subconscious would be connected and influenced by the culture they live in.  What if a person lived completely alone? Could a hermit expressive his/her thoughts, feelings, subconscious visually?

I am pondering the question of nature vs. nurture theoretically, probably even hypothetically. All of us have lived our entire lives within at least one culture. It is nearly impossible for us to imagine life devoid of societal influences; therefore our art is going to be influenced by the cultures we have experienced.

Can art exist and be made in a vacuum? Possibly, but it would be very dusty.

The Task of Art

The author states that it is the ethical responsibility of the artist to “safeguard” the authentic human experience from our culture of “mass produced and universally marketed kitsch.” At the risk of exposing my ignorance, when does something become “kitsch”? Most people would accept without much argument that mass produced, decorative, knick knacks are kitsch. But what about the work created by a designer that is now mass produced, marketed and sold at numerous discount stores? Certainly, the designer started out creating something original. Is their work considered kitsch because it became mass produced? Andy Worhal’s, Claude Monet’s and Vincent van Gogh’s most famous works are reproduced and mass produced on anything from posters to woman’s handbags. Does that make their work kitsch? Is it kitsch because it was created for the popular appeal of the masses? As artists don’t we want our work to become popular? We’d make more money. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t initially rejected by the masses like Monet’s and van Gogh’s work. What about the work of Thomas Kinkade? Is it art or kitsch? That’s a question that can cause quite a debate between some people. I agree with the author that artists should create work that reduces the human experience of anguish, alienation, and violence. Heaven forbid it ever be mass produced.

Image to Entity

Identify and discuss theoretical considerations or implications specific to working “in the round” (not being limited to the two-dimensions of the canvas).   Though there are similarities shared between 2D and 3d art works, there are many aspects to working three-dimensionally that require a reconsideration of many elements including:  scale of the work, scale of the viewer, material choice, the role of time, location(site), kinetics, etc.

Two-dimensional works, in the examples that come readily to mind, are all static.  They can simulate the idea of time and motion; they can create the illusion of depth and invite the viewer to mentally “walk inside” the work. However, once a work engages time and/or motion or allows the viewer to actually walk inside it, the work crosses over into the third dimension.  The question that intrigues me the most is “How can works of art engage the viewer mentally, emotionally, and physically?” More importantly, how can my work accomplish this?

One of the “ah-ha” moments in my first installation piece was that the work didn’t need to be portable.  I have viewed a variety of installations and admired the work of Andy Goldsworthy, but hadn’t wrapped my brain around the concept that my own work doesn’t have to be permanent and it doesn’t need to be moveable.  A sculpture can live for only a moment in time or for as long as Mother Nature allows, which allows enough time for the work to be recorded digitally.  Then the work can cease to exist all together.

The physical process of creating sculptures is also different from that of two-dimensional work.  Large scale drawings and paintings do not put the same physical demands on the artist as do three-dimensional works of art.  Large drawings and paintings my require the artist to climb a ladder and extend his/her reach to its limits, but a sculpture requires the artist to be more physically involved in the work – pushing, pulling, lifting, moving, etc.

I have mentally toyed with a variety of sculptural ideas.  Works that engage the viewer physically are fascinating.  A work of art should invite people to touch it and interact with it.  Can the principles of paper engineering that are used in pop-up books be employed in a large scale sculpture?  What would the materials be?  Should it tell a story or should it just rely on formal qualities? I would like people to experience the same child-like, playful fascination that I get when examining a well crafted pop-up book.

The work I’m currently exploring is intended to engage the viewer on an emotional level.  The piece I’m working on substitute’s human infants for puppies.  However, as I explore this idea and ask potential viewers their interpretations of this hypothetical work, I’m discovering the intended message is missed.  The next problem is how to adjust the work so that it communicates the intended message.

MART 10 Questions

10 Questions
1. Works of art have many sources: observation of the world, memory, emotions and
ideas, invention within the medium, response to current events, awareness of art history,
etc. Which of these (or other) sources are most important for you?

The sources most important to my work would be nature, animal welfare, religious beliefs and emotions.
2. How do you intend your artistic productions to be used? Examples might include
decoration, enlightenment, education, advertisement, social good, meditation, pleasure,
provocation, as a form of prayer/gift/devotion…

The purposes of my artwork depend on the subject.  Most of my abstract pieces were created as prayers and are intended to be viewed in the same manner; the work based from nature is intended to be a meditation on beauty; and my work involving animals is intended to challenge a persons thinking and beliefs.
3. Who is your intended audience? To whom should your art be important?

Probably anyone who enjoys or appreciates nature.
4. What is the ideal physical setting (gallery, home, public space, natural setting, etc.) for
experiencing your work? Why?

The ideal setting for my work would be a private home or a small public space.  Most of my work is small and would display best in an intimate setting. My work is also personal and is most likely to resonate with individuals and small groups of like-minded people.
5. What is the balance of will and unpredictability in making your work?

My work begins with an idea, a direction, an intended visual statement; then it takes on a life of its own, so how it turns out is unpredictable.
6. What is your attitude toward making something beautiful?

I believe beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.  My work generally begins with something I find beautiful and fascinating.
7. Does being an artist carry with it any social responsibilities? Think about from both
personal and societal perspectives.

I think artists have a responsibility to help others see the world from a different perspective; or to make visible that which is difficult to put into words.  In a nut shell: to challenge others to think differently.
8. What do you hate to hear about your work?

I hate to hear that people don’t understand it.  If my work completely confuses people then it’s a failure.
9. How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

I describe my work as abstract, focusing on the interplay of light and shadow.
10. What is the work of the artist?

The work of the artist is play.


The first summer session is now over.  It really was the best summer I can remember in a very long time.  Spending my time drawing and painting, working with ideas, and experimenting with different media was exciting.

Here’s a few of the works I completed.  More will be posted as soon as I can get pictures taken.