Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Literary Inspirations

I've been thinking about the creative process and where it comes from. For me, one important place where I find inspiration for new pieces is from the books I read.(Of course I have never lacked a vivid imagination.) In fact, my entire art 'career' got started from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. That first piece, inspired by the book, was in an exhibition at St. John's College, in Santa Fe. Here is the picture of Huck and Jim floating down the Mississippi. They are made from sticks, rags, wax and their 'raft' is an old book cover.

Another book that got my imagination working overtime was The Marsh Arabs by Wilfred Thesiger, one of the last of the great British explorers. He spent quite a bit of time living with a variety of tribes that lived in the marshes in Southern Iraq in the late 1950's. Since then, Saddam Hussein drained and destroyed the marshes, fearing rebels hiding in them. This next photo is my interpretation of two march Arabs in their fishing boat pulling up a net. The piece is made from old canvas, wood, old screening, and lots of reclaimed material and mounted to the wall.

As you can see, the early work was figurative, for the most part. After several years of making figures, I ventured into the animal world. Most of my current work is based from my experiences with the animal Kingdom. Recently I read the book,
The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff. There was one anecdote that caught my attenion, about a naturalist who was collecting specimen in the late 17th century for a museum in the Netherlands. He found a fruit bat in the Philippians and sent it back to the museum, but unfortunately he died before he returned and could show them what the bat really looked like. So the curators, thinking the bat was related more to bears than birds, recreated it looking like a friendly teddy bear, not an intense fang-mouthed creature. The final image posted here shows the bat that I made...he looks pretty harmless. His wings are made from an old cloth work apron of mine, with the stains and passage of time still on the fabric, like some old forgotten map. Branches hold together the wings and feet, along with odds and ends accumulated in my studio. An old lock from a painted door acts as the mounting system for the piece.

I am wondering where you find your inspiration for your art work? I'd be interested to hear if anyone else is using literature as a jumping off point? What inspires you? (If possible please include a link to your images.)

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