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 Masters Thesis in Sculpture, 1965

As an artist, I am concerned with the idea of the private environment which is primarily aesthetic and for which this series of relief and free standing sculptures are the beginning. These objects may be more specifically referred to as personal totems.

The ancient Viking was most resourceful when he built his ships. These shipbuilders constructed a private environment in the form of a great warrior ship—a powerful daemon who controlled their thinking.  The form of this ship constantly reminded the Viking of his identity; a proud conqueror bound, by a heroic religion, to a warrior’s death. He could not accomplish his raids and explorations in just any ship, for the voyages were too long and strenuous. He required a totem as a reminder of his task.

In my experience, the creative process is also a long and arduous voyage.  While I’m working, my mind must be kept alert and receptive in order not to miss some truth that might penetrate the maze of everyday life. Reacting in this manner, I may become aware of other ways of thinking, that is, the many systems of values and the various levels of the world in which we all exist. There are times when this invasion of my mind by a wide potential of ideas becomes so consuming that my identity and sense of purpose become obscured.  Therefore, I have had to learn, as I assume the ancient Vikings did, that an environment containing many totems of my beliefs and attitudes must be present to clarify and remind me of my role.  This environment must be as complete as possible because it is here I will think, work, and live.

This environment, in order to function most effectively, must, like a work of art, be complete to the smallest detail.  I must consider where and upon what I will sit, which tools will be used in the building of my work and how they are housed.  If I choose to play a musical instrument to relax or express myself, the quality of the instrument in respect to the music to be played must be considered. There must also be totems that convey meaning on a higher level combining both subjective and objective worlds.  A totem of this type is the piece Lord of the Flies, a work which suggests to me that the world is in a primitive state.  It tells me we continue to live with attitudes found in the jungle;  that the guiding principle in far too many human relationships continues to be survival of the fittest.  It also reminds me that man is still not responsible to other men.  At times I tend to forget this and think I am a participant in some sort  of incredible progress, sanctified as common belief, until this totem threatens such a notion of reality.  This experience compels me to affirm the need for morality among men.

This totem, initially built as a private experience, must now communicate with others. To accomplish this, I feel the work must assume a presence for others.  Mr. Rudy Turk, Director of the Richmond Art Center, says in a statement concerning a recent show of mine:

“When an artist’s work becomes a presence—an object which cannot be understood through intellect or past association alone, when it must be understood by complete empathy, self identification with the work—then the artist has truly created a new world for us.  It is relatively easy to do this with these works.  The tactile and kinetic elements are as obvious as they are generalized.”

My purpose, then, is to construct objects which exist as totemic beings evocative of my feelings and attitudes about life.



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