September 4, 2013 by smithartonline
Soul Catcher is a bit unusual since I began it and, part way through, stopped to produce another piece for exhibition. I know of artists who are able to work on multiple projects concurrently, even starting works and then returning at a much later date to finish up. I guess I am too monogamous or something, starting and stopping is too disruptive for me and a work will take a totally new direction when I return to it. It can result in personal frustration trying to bend a new plan to fit within the confines of a work already in progress.
Initially this piece was going to be part of a series called “Widow’s Walk” which would incorporate human and whale forms. I have used this theme in the past with mixed results, and I have not totally abandoned the idea, just leaving it this time through. I refocused on the folk tales relating the loss of sailors and the final capture of their souls by otherworldly beings. (A rendering of the traditional tale may be found here: Soul Cages by T. Crofton Croker…it is about Irish Merrows, but the idea is pretty much the same)
These box affairs of mine are very architectural. For a number of years I had the opportunity to design and build theater sets and models for various theater groups. I enjoy the actual physical experience of sawing sanding and gluing up. This is the ritual part of art creation which is the personal joy reserved only for the artist. There is also an obvious influence of pinball machines, but so far there is no physical interaction between the viewer and the art—the interaction remains at the visual and philosophical level. Perhaps down the road I may experiment with more physically interactive presentations.
The Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California continues to be my escape. When I get stuck on a project, I find just going to this museum and sitting among the greatness of the ages, I can feel revitalized. Actually, in this instance, I happened across some accessories belonging to a Korean shaman, including a mirror holder with seven stars and a moon, a talisman for good fortune. I knew I would incorporate the star shapes into the work and easily adapted the symbolism of Korea in this case.