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Starting out with the plan of a silversmithing apprenticeship in Barcelona, instead turned into 13 months of wandering, ending with paper butterflies in a small mountain town in Morocco.
The result of that unplanned expedition from Spain to the Canary Islands, to Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Morocco was an intense overload of interpersonal experience and personal introspection.
Once returned to the US and settled in Seattle, I set out to capture my emotional state in the form of sculptures
Which led to this (sound on for full affect!)...
This music box captures the spirit of my adventurous life while living and traveling abroad.
The box in its closed state, is simple, clean and unassuming.
When I left for Spain, I was prepared for an apprenticeship, but open to whatever adventure awaited, though I had no idea what was in store.
I went there to hammer on silver.
I took in every moment of it - the cultures, the sounds, colors, smells, clothes, light and darkness.
Each new experience added a layer of chaos balanced with a strange kind of numbing.
It all seemed like such a dream - like I was watching things unfold from somewhere outside of myself but at the same time, experiencing life in the most intense and bizarre way.
During the last several months of my travels, I lived in a small 2 room 'row house' carved into the hillside of a small mountain town, a few hours from Fez.
There was a small bathroom (literally a hole in the floor of a closet), a small propane tank with single burner where we cooked meals on the floor, and a well up the hill where we gathered water.
In the middle of the main room was a large open square in the ceiling, with nothing but a battered, mostly open, rebar grate to prevent large objects (or people) from coming inside.
While giant insects from previous months in the desert and other parts of North Africa influenced this sculpture, the memory of staring through that opening and wondering/considering/contemplating life remains a strong visual to this day.
The box plays 7 songs simultaneously:
After the Lovin’
Always on My Mind
Pomp and Circumstance
The experience of my conservative, privileged, middle-class American upbringing in relation to the struggles and happiness of people I met in impoverished villages, lavish cities, and everywhere in between taught me much about life.
I made this sculpture by fabricating the hollow steel box with a hidden trap for music mechanisms. The inserts are hammered copper, carved cast bronze, and countless hours of carving tiny insect legs and soldering them to the bug form I hammered out of sheet copper.
The resulting box, titled Satiated, is a one of a kind, handcrafted, metal sculpture that plays 7 songs simultaneously.
The sound (and absence of sound when closed) tell the bigger story.
I never did get to do the internship (he postponed it just after I arrived in Spain), but I'm so glad I got to live this part of my life instead. Epic indeed!
One of the many art projects I did to amuse (and comfort) myself while living this life was a butterfly wall. (another included teaching myself and Moroccan locals to make silkscreened t-shirts to sell to tourists)
I made hundreds of butterflies, black on one side and brightly colored on the reverse, then pinned them to a wall in a murmuration type pattern.
When looking straight at the wall it was a sea of black butterflies, but peer from the side and a rainbow of color burst from the undersides.
I don't have pictures of that wall, but at some point since, I thought I'd recreate it in copper. I made these abstract copper butterflies with the intention of doing something lavish to the undersides, but haven't gotten around to finishing them.
What do you think?!
Should I come back to this project?
(I suffer from too many ideas and too little time syndrome!)
The butterfly wall was back in the day, pre-camera phones, when I made things just because I could and didn't document every moment.
And this is exactly what I'm getting back to in my work now.
Pursuing art for the sake of art, the love of making and inventing.
Channeling life's ups and downs into objects that radiate depth, meaning, and beauty.
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Color has the power to impact our day. It affects us at the beach as well as the kitchen, so we might as well keep happy versions of it in our lives. Plus, the challenging but fun task of choosing the right color spoon to go with your enamelware bowl. Which would you pair with this bowl?
Shades of water or the rainbow - you can't lose.