Artist's statement

A sculptor carves little Pinocchios,
tricksters who may dream of becoming 
more than artful fabrications.
You can see them gather in galleries.
And in the end the most successful
become objects again.
But some of them, sometimes,
become real in someone else's mind

In movies, gunslingers snatch flies in midair.
Artists must catch flies that weren't there
until they were caught.
Show me something 
that can be made of nothing. 
Would you try this with stone?
There are problems:
stone's moment was at the beginning,
when it was pretty much all there was.
Now it's just an accent 
waiting to happen.
It weighs too much, 
     costs too much,
          takes too much time.
Once the logistics were harsh,
but justifiable.
Now that all things are possible,
why bother?
Consider where you are in time.
We try so hard to create a world
in which we're set like a gem.
But time is fluid,
and stone somehow 
seems to slow it just enough
to give your wishes weight.

It seems so simple:
I choose this;
I reject that.
The problem is
there never was a right choice, 
and there never will be.
It's free-
     a gimme.
A cock-eyed kid can beat a pro.
A burned-out husk can make a phenom look hollow.
What's so difficult?
You take this,
mix it with that,
toss in a dash,
heat it for so long,
But you're not a cook.
No one ordered this.
We do have a problem.
In the end, who's paying?
What you want to do
is produce something
that will serve as someone's backdrop.
People who can pay for it
want to know why.
The artist's dream is to make something
that people will admire.
His job is to sell it.
The problem is
people don't want to be sold,
and the artist doesn't want a job.

There are lots of people who can harness dreams.
The problem is they're professional dreamers,
and only a rich or dream-haunted world
can sustain them.
All I can tell you is this:
Don't hope to become the perfect tool.
Hope for a somewhat marketable dream.
In this waking world we're constricted.
We love anything 
that tells us we can break our bounds
and still return safely.
People have been known to pay for that.

Just show me something.
It doesn't have to be astonishing.
It could be something 
I wanted to see again.
Show me what I can see.
You may hope to expand that a bit,
maybe even change it,
but in the end it's an exercise of eyes.

I like beauty.
People who are knowledgeable about art
are correctly suspicious of this.
It's like comfort food.
Too much makes you fat
and rots your teeth.
But beauty is not to be discounted.
In life it always comes at a premium.
We use it to justify anything,
     and scorn it to raise ourselves above.
We debate it into oblivion,
     and then declare it a standard.
We destroy it without thought,
     and destroy ourselves to bring it into being.
I think of it as a lullaby
that lets us trust our dreams.
I think art is a sharing of dreams.
Beyond that is only sleep.

What are dreams for?
I can't tell you that,
but stone is blessedly direct.
It will bear only what it can bear.
Engineers can chart that for you.
On the other hand,
it can carry anything.
As with a note, a word, a color, a kiss,
it has definite boundaries
containing infinities,
and we love to be told
we live in an infinite world.
We are surrounded by horror and beauty.
I suspect only adolescents
can take them straight.
The rest of us may need artists.

We are all consumers.
Do you want to be consumed?
First you'll need talent.
I've been told that's not true.
I haven't the heart to argue,
because to continue
you must throw yourself away.
(If you have money
you may throw that away as a substitute,
but I suspect the muses
never got over their taste 
for blood sacrifice.)
Some will succeed
and the rest of us
should recognize something fine
when we see it,
and not dismiss it
with the thought that 
we could have done that
had we been foolish enough
to throw our lives away.


If you can accept that,
you may proceed.
Don't linger over lost possibilities
as they fall away.
What you're really praying for
is something that can mitigate the loss.
You get down on your knees
and whisper
Well, what do you get?
Maybe more than if you hadn't.
Or maybe you'll be squashed
for the impertinence.
What you get is what comes next.        
Don't you want to know?
Harness that.
Try to produce a static, finite object
that remains unknown,
but capable of a thousand possibilities
that might just come
if you get down on your knees
and whisper

You've got to gamble
if you want to stand at the table.
And you can bet more
than just yourself.
In time you might even see
that what's ventured
may be worth more
than any hoped for gain, 
but you've got to risk something
unless what you do is only for you.
And if that's true,
you can't lose.
There is no risk.
But what you make
will be no more than your shadow.
I think that what you make 
must be its own
if it's ever to have a chance of becoming real.
Should you shackle it to yourself
or even your time,
you dower it with a thief's bounty,
survival dressed for the feast.
What can you claim that's untethered?
Your own heart is caged.
Maybe you don't want to believe this.
Maybe you want to carve a way out.
What better than stone?

Your tools blunt time.
What you learn deflects wonder.
Your dreams fade when you wake.
     But stone remains.
And your tools have worked magic.
And what you learned was true.
And dreams shape lives.

Stone bends you toward simplicity,
but the human dream is messy.
You can't dream like a stone.
Why even try?
Should you make it all messy and throw it away,
stone won't care.
The mountain does not dream of you.
The river seeks only the ocean.
A stone will not tell you what it wants to be.
Where do your dreams go when you wake?
I think they rise to the mountains
and then roll down rivers,
like a stone.