The things are very much photographs; that I carve the fingers is simply a part of the material cause, in principle not different (in my mind, at least), than buying Seagull to print them on. If I could go for a walk and find the motif already available I would, but alas, I have to make the things first, then photograph them. Actually, its very important to me that they are photographs. Since I reuse (sometimes altering, sometimes not) the several carved parts, they become a vocabulary, as it were. Placement, lighting, scale, and so forth allow an exploration of form and content. Damned strange way to make a photograph, I suppose. I've been urged to show the marble parts as sculpture on several occasions, and adamantly declined - they are merely props, made from a traditional sculptural material. To exhibit them as sculpture would make as much sense as Edward Weston showing the peppers (the vegetables, not the photographs). I did architectural photography commercially for a number of years; and since most of the projects I photographed were new construction, I started picking up scraps of marble from the building that were torn down to clear the ground (Dallas is notorious for not valueing its architectural heritage); the now-vanished buildings are my 'quarry'.
What I have been doing for some years now is making marble body parts, and photographing them. Mostly ears, fingers and the other sites of the sensa. For a while, I was placing them in front of heavily-worked surfaces; more recently in front of a black void. Still-lifes, I suppose. What I have been interested in is using representations of the exterior of the body as metaphors for interiority. I started with making plaster life casts, but they photograph as plaster - very dull, dead. Marble photographs with a luminosity that, at least sometimes, approaches flesh. Julia had been a stone carver before a back injury while an undergraduate caused her to give it up for a year; she took Russell Lee's class and was hooked; never went back to sculpture but kept the tools.[David is Julia Marsalek Dawson's husband.] She is generous and lets me use them. (I never did any sculpture until I started this.) Why not just photograph the figure? I like the distance the carvings introduce. (I've found I like carving, too. Very contemplative time, rather like printing.) The carvings allow me to deal with parts, not the whole.
A level of abstraction is introduced, a parallel to reflexive thought,
in which the intentional object is, as it were, turned to stone. And it
lets me explore nuances of light in a more of less systematic way. It also
allows working at odd hours, which since undertaking to do the gallery
at my place, and more recently the administrative responsibilities I've
assumed, have become increasingly odd.
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