Writes of Passage
By Tom Wachunas
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” -Thomas Merton
“As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.” –Calvin
And now for something completely different – a man with three buttocks. Er, umm…, thanks anyway, Monty Python. Let’s start again.
And now for something completely different – the “critic” bares (bears?) his soul about his art. This I assure you is a loaded
I can’t remember anymore how many times fellow artists have asked me, “Are you making any new stuff lately?” To which I’ve often shot back, “Read my blog lately?” While I can certainly appreciate how such a quip could be taken as flippant or arrogant, it is generally and sincerely meant to be an invitation.
Throughout the past several years, I’ve come to embrace the act of writing well about art (or the arts) as essentially an extension of making an art object. I mean this in the sense that any work of art is at its core a formal externalization of the human spirit and all it might connote – mind, heart, soul. In giving form to ideas and/or emotions through words, my processes and methods of constructing a critique or commentary are no different than those I engage in constructing my mixed media works.
It all comes down to configuration – the overall intentional structuring or arrangement of a given set of components (elements) to achieve a desired end (whole). This end could be one or a combination of the following: to instruct, impart a personal message, provoke inquiry, evince a truth, evoke an experience, or simply “entertain.” Determining and manipulating the material medium and formal vocabulary (i.e. line, shape, form, texture, color, etc.) that best serves my intentions as a visual artist is an often enough daunting process, and one nonetheless parallel to choosing and composing the most efficacious words for my essays. In as much as I consider this blog site to be a “gallery” of other artists’ works and a platform for offering insight as to their meaning, it is also a venue for my own.
Over the past few years, my visual work has evolved into sculptural drawings in high relief - configurations - often incorporating found objects and “pedestrian” materials. These mixed media assemblages are tactile metaphors for contemplating the tensions between various dichotomies I see working in my daily life as I discern its meaning and purpose: hiding and uncovering, illusion and reality, spirit and natural substance, seeking and discovery. Conceptually, for me these works address physical, emotional, and cerebral processes of making and interpreting art. You could call it three-dimensional writing.
The pieces pictured above (on view for a few more weeks at Gallery 6000, after the current Spring Break at Kent Stark – see my post here from Feb. 9) represent a reworking of older pieces to symbolize the vague (and often nagging) sense of immanent change I’ve been feeling lately as to the trajectory of new work. Word play has always figured highly in many of my titles, intended to imply a multiplicity or layering of meaning. Knot What It Used To Be and Gauze For Concern, for example, remain consistent with my abiding fascination with the ephemeral, ambiguous nature of signs and symbols within our materialistic culture. Yet they also signify a personal desire to recognize and heal spiritual wounds.
What all this might mean for future artworks remains uncertain. If I think about it too much, I get all tied up in
PHOTOS, from top (click on pictures for enlarged slide show): Knot What It Used To Be; Gauze For Concern; Tiechotomies