I am looking for emotional resonance, a coming together of mind, body and sensation. This resonance could be thought of as a sense of color or light.
The wood was, until recently alive, standing tall and expressing great vitality. Cutting it down arrests this growth but allows it to gradually dry, crack, rot and generally offer itself up as a resource and not as a tree. The wood has called to me, wanting to have its life back and not be left to rot into oblivion. It is very hard and heavy, actually somewhat like stone. The process of basic shaping is done with chainsaws and power tools. Hand tools are used only at the end for refinement. A shape is not unlike a drawing. Edges are actually lines drawn in three dimensions. And once we start thinking in terms of drawing it is easy to see that we also are painting. The painting being the suggestion of something. So while you are looking at these pieces and thinking sculpture, I am thinking painting. Paintings are images, they are creations of the imagination and that is what we have here.
I want my images to resonate. I want them to feel alive, to be emotionally, physically and intellectually alive. To make this happen requires a transformation and I cannot make this happen on my own. The wood must come to me, the tools must come to me, the colors must come to me. I have to work hard and be patient. These are long-term projects that may take years to complete. I am half of the equation but no more. They are “finished” again and again in the sense that every activity done to them is meant to be definitive, the last word. It is balance I am looking for and a feeling of knowing the piece intimately.
A good deal of this “knowing” is achieved through the sense of touch. We can see with our eyes but also with our hands. We can feel texture, and texture is linked to color which is how we emotionally experience the world. I want to know color. In its broadest sense, color is emotional resonance. We talk about hearing the color of sounds in music, or the color of joke or a personality. Having a sense of color is having an affinity for the feeling quality of something. Now we can talk because everyone experiences the world through their emotions. This is the common ground I am looking for.
When you ask, what does it mean?, I will tell you that it means I am present in the work and also that the work is present in me. We have made a bargain, I gave the work 50% of me and the work gave me 50% of itself. Art is self-reflective, it is a mirror to the artist, in effect a stand-in. By repeatedly engaging, the forms and the surfaces gradually reveal themselves. I do not have sketches to go by, but I do look for certain things to happen.
I have been inspired by the simple majesty of Korean ceramics, particularly Joseon period celadon moon jars. I am also drawn to boats, cars, toys and tools. These are all things that get handled. They have a functional character to them. I want my work to seem familiar, but not be really functional. The response I am looking for is: “ Wow, these things are undeniable in their physicality but I don’t quite understand what they are”
The epiphany that I had is that the most engaging work raises questions rather than answering questions. What are they, why did I make them, what are they made of, how did I make them and what should we do with them?
George Woollard, Artist’s statement, Koa Gallery, April 13, 2017. The show “Wire and Wood” will be up until April 21st. Koa Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 3 pm. The events and exhibition are free and open to the public. Address: KCC, 4303 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816.