There is something inherently special about carving on a field with 110 sculptors from all over North America. This was my second year of carving on this block of Texas limestone. When Scott at Marenakos said he had a stone for me, I had no idea it was a 4000-pound block. It had a mud seam on the back, and I needed to remove this, because in time, it would have separated from the main block. That piece was about 500 pounds.
Now that the stone was ready to carve, I had no idea what I was going to do. I made a cut in the top left and went on from there. It took two symposiums to carve this sculpture. The story behind this piece is something like a black hole in space. All the energy and matter is getting sucked in, and on the back side, a new energy or world is created. The top left cylindrical shape represents a sun and the bottom right cylinder a moon.
We titled this piece “Genesis”, and I think it’s fitting for the space and for the client it was made for. I need to thank Wade Zick and Pilgrims Firs Camp for acquiring this piece to be on public display. I was planning on taking three years or three symposiums to complete this, but in the end it all worked out. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but I added a lot of different textures to this sculpture. Dale Enoch taught me a new technique called “corn rowing”, which is using a very sharp point-chisel and a hammer to make erratic lines in the stone. This was done on the Sun element.
Carving at a symposium is something I really love to do. You just feel all the energy and hear it too. It is an amazing place to create a sculpture and have many, many people come and talk or even give ideas as to what you’re working on. If you are thinking about coming, give it a chance—you will be amazed by the great people of this group.
I know I say this every year, but this time I really, really mean it. You definitely want to be at the Symposium at Pilgrim Firs this July! I promise. We have workshops galore, awesome Guest Artists, new staff to break in, our Saturday Sculpture Walk, presentations, communal meals, campfires, kayaks, and the list just keeps growing.
Let’s start with the Dojo – our community learning hub that hosts the tool room and the Beginner’s Workshop. Instructors Tamara Buchanan and Ruth Mueseler will be on hand to mentor beginners. Anyone who doesn’t have their own workspace and tools to bring is welcome to work in the space – we provide bankers, tools and mentoring. Marenakos is graciously providing us with limestone as well so newcomers have something to cut their teeth on. If you’ve never carved before or are just starting out, this is the place for you!
Our jade tent and workshop will be in full force Monday through Saturday. Dale Blankenship, creator of mind-bendingly detailed jade carvings, has stepped up to lead the workshop. Steve Sandry and Julianne Kohn will be assisting. The tent is decked out with every tool you need to take a small piece of jade from start to beautiful finish during the week. Dale will have small pieces of jade for sale and Washington Jade will be sending along some larger hunks they’ve hunted locally for those who’ve really been bitten by the jade bug.
This year we are very excited to be offering a workshop in figurative marble carving with superstar Jason Arkles at the helm. Oliver Harwood up at Studiostone in Vancouver just happened to have 15 spare identical blocks of high quality Italian marble and we got them for you! Everyone in this workshop gets one of the 190 lb. blocks and is asked to bring a figurative maquette and their favorite tools. (I will host a maquette building workshop at my studio in June, details to registrees.) We’ll have at a couple of pointing machines available for use but bring your own if you definitely want to learn that technique for exact replication – it’s one of Jason’s specialties. Jason, by the way, is one of those guys who lives and works in Florence, Italy carving life size marble statues and travels the world putting on workshops. We know him from his podcast, The Sculptor’s Funeral, which focuses exclusively on the history of figurative stonework. You can listen to it for free online and I highly recommend it.
From Indiana, large-scale public artist Dale Enochs will be joining us as a Guest Artist and we are happy to welcome him! He works almost exclusively with limestone, combining it with various metals to create stunning abstract work that define space. He’ll be onsite doing daily presentation on texturing and surfacing, focusing on the ways those techniques can enliven sculptures through visual contrast.
This year, also, we will be transitioning the position of Field Manager. Pat Barton has been just amazing to work with the past (well, more years than I’ve even been coming to the symposium) number of years and we’ve all benefited from his knowledge, generosity, and efficiency genius. He’s passing the torch this year to the dynamic duo of Trevor Contreras and Ed Salerno, mentored by Gene Carlson. Make sure you forget your hoses and break a bunch of things so they get properly broken in this July.
See you on the field!
-Cyra Jane, Symposium Director