Michelangelo is said to have written: “Every block of stone has a statue in it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” It’s not that simple.
Yes, carving is an act of discovery as much as of creation. What and how I carve is influenced — at times determined — by the shape, color, and texture, and even imperfections, of the particular stone. But the artist obviously plays a critical role.
The artist’s job is to create and refine a sensibility, a feeling, a reflective moment within the final image. I may certainly attempt to instill/evoke a particular meaning or emotion but I cannot mandate the viewer’s response, and may not even be consciously aware of my intentions. I find the best art is often ambiguous and thought provoking, unsettling or enigmatic, and, like life itself, often surprising and even humorous.
Finally, with stone carving the joy for the carver is not so much in the destination, as in the journey: Creating a piece of art from a rock.
I began carving as an avocation in the mid-1960’s while editor-in-chief at a New York publishing house and did not sculpt full time until the mid-1980’s when I moved to Austin, Texas. There I taught stone carving at the Elisabet Ney Sculpture Conservatory and exhibited in numerous shows and galleries in the Austin-Dallas-Houston-San Antonio area.
I continued to carve off and on in the interim years, and after, during careers as a machinist, middle school math/science teacher, Assistant to the Chaplain at Johns Hopkins University, college language arts specialist at various New York area institutions (see criticalreading.com) and as a legislative health care lobbyist in West Virginia – in most instances maintaining some gallery presence. With my wife’s recent retirement from Florida State University we moved “back home” to Charleston, West Virginia where I can again devote my full attention to carving.