For much of the past ten years I have been a direct carver. My work has concentrated on abstract figurative sculptures, carved from natural stone and wood. Many of my pieces are human figures, often female nudes. As an African American artist, my work often emphasizes the beauty of unique ethnic traits. For example, my limestone sculpture No Lye is a salute to naturally curly hair, untreated by harsh chemicals. A central focus of my work is the celebration of ethnic diversity. In addition to the human form, I am also inspired by other naturalistic objects such as mathematical waves and aquatic animals. Glide suggests an animal moving through water. My sculptures are a combination of arcs, twisting planes, concavities, and convexities. I describe this work as biomorphic, evocative of living organisms. My goal is to extol the beauty inherent in human and naturalistic shapes.
As a direct carver, I allow the natural properties of my woods and stones to inspire me and influence my work, rather than imposing preconceived drawings or models onto the material. I’ve been heavily influenced by the works of Aristide Maillol and Hans Arp, and particularly by the modern sculptor and direct carver Lorrie Goulet. The raw material itself suggests the forms that I carve: knots in the wood or fissures in the stone will often guide the direction of my work. I feel a palpable connection with the virgin material. I am guided by my inner vision, the properties of the material, and my emotions. Oftentimes inspiration comes to me only after I’ve begun to carve a piece, from a place deep inside my subconscious. During the carving process, most planning and analysis is put on hold while my hands and intuition take over. My hands are often on “auto-pilot” as I work.
My primary tools are simple. I use a hammer and chisels, the same tools that have served carvers through the centuries. The stones and woods that I carve vary widely with regard to hardness and appearance. My stones range from colorful alabasters and soapstones to white marbles and beige limestones. The woods I use are equally assorted, including applewood, black walnut, pine, sassafras and cedar (the latter two, in particular, have lovely fragrances that add another level of sensual pleasure as I work these woods). Each piece of stone or wood presents unique challenges as I endeavor to incorporate their natural raw beauty into a finished piece.
Seeking to create beautiful things has been my passion since childhood. I fell in love with the concept of carving from the moment an uncle showed me how to shape a bar of soap with a knife. From childhood days of soap bars to today’s stone and wood, carving is the vehicle that I choose to express my personal aesthetic of natural beauty.