Monday, September 22, 2008

Deep Craft at Waterfall Arts

I've been working with Waterfall Arts' founder Alan Crichton, to co-curate their upcoming show, titled Resonance and Response, which will showcase the work of two Maine artists - and am doubling up by writing and posting here the statement for the show, which is to be held concurrently with Waterfall's annual symposium on the connections between art and nature, this year titled "Conflux." I love blog sentences - they go on and on. Here's the statement.

Joe Ascrizzi and Diana Cherbuliez are artisans, sculptors, and story-tellers. In terms of what we ordinarily think of as “craftsmanship,” each is a master. But there is more to craft than careful making. To speak of “deep craft” is to acknowledge the art of slowing down, engaging more people, living through process and results. It implies knowing how to look, and how to think about what comes next. A carpenter at work with his tools always envisions the steps he will take before they happen. C follows B follows A. This kind of deep thinking and making means responding to the given, whether what is given is the mythology implicit in a found object, or the resonance given off by a block of wood.

Diana lives in a house of her own making, in an island world that provides her with a constant source of raw materials. In considering an apple wood limb, she will parse out the cultural and mythological implications of the apple tree, Eve and the snake aided by a rat. Or, a particularly disorienting wallpaper pattern will trigger associations with her childhood bedroom, and she will progress from that idea to create a mirrored box that invites us into the dreamtime, the in between time when we are just falling asleep. In Diana’s work mirrors are the tools through which we build the scaffolds of our personal histories, and by which, through the magic of infinite reflection, we come to understand universal human truths.

By contrast, Joe works intuitively, listening for the frequencies that emanate from his materials. As if tuning into a universal channel, he lets the materials tell him what tools to use and what images to bring forth. The resulting imagery may be a Renaissance-like allegory, or it may be constructed on a geometric abstraction, a five-pointed star or a Golden Section. Joe’s family is from the Italian region of Calabria, where he learned the medieval and Renaissance crafts he now practices. Something in the air, perhaps, has carried forward through history. In one of his mirrored pieces, the mirror appears to be on the surface with the frame, but is not – one reaches back, and back, to find an elusive reality.

In bringing these two artists together at Waterfall Arts, in confluence with CONFLUX, the Deep Craft Symposium, we acknowledge the connections between art and nature, that one informs the other, that although we no longer live solely in the natural world, art is the reflection of our surroundings, the reminder of who we are and have the potential to become, and how we may attend to the practice of living as individuals in community.

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