Friday, February 10, 2012


Stevie Smith - Not Waving But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Technical: The piece was made with the lost wax process and kiln cast glass. I worked with artist and master caster and friend Steven R. Easton . When I had a good cast, I proceeded to work the surface myself to create more detail an, ultimately to create the surface texture.
I had help from the following people as well and big thanks goes to them as well!
Gus Actis (Mold maker, waxes)
David King (Cold working, Philly)
John Laustsen (Cold Working, Providence)
and also...

Theo Kropf (Cold Working, Providence)
Drew Smith (initial cast test)

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This is my first cast glass sculpture—my first “real” sculpture. I have tried many, many times in the past—gaining no real purchase on the methods or process. Once again, it takes glass itself to bring out my voice. What is it about glass? Is it its resistance and strength? Glass is tough to work with—it could not be more different than flesh in terms of resistance and structure! And yet, it is sensitive, responsive, emotional.
As I worked, I couldn’t get over the feeling that, hidden in the material, are characters waiting to be revealed, bodies seeking release and faces yearning for expression.

As I worked on the piece I had the sensation of synesthesia—drawing the diamond tool and the polishing bits down the length of the neck felt like caressing flesh. I had an overwhelming sense of the softness, the smoothness and undulation of tendon, bone, and muscle; a sense that the arch of the neck, the curve of the lips and the bulge of the eyelids constrained a real life force.

The Stevie Smith poem speaks of the futility of connection—we see a far off hand...and misunderstand, or perhaps understand all too well.
The idea of “Drowning” was an attempt to depict birth, life and death simultaneously. I wanted to show the struggle of emergence or birth from some type of watery protoplasm into true form—a narrative that is, perhaps, a metaphor for the artistic process—wherein form rises from the subconscious to become manifest and then to return again to the depths of another’s, (the viewer’s) subconscious. Something the poem does efficiently and to great effect.

Is this person being born or dying? The expression of ecstasy is to interpretation as it connotes the dissolving of the soul into inspiration, or in orgasm or in the throes of death. It could be waving, it could be drowning.

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