Sea Lion Caves: Florence, Oregon
Pumpkin Carriage: Eugene Oregon
Quiet Dignity: Leaburg, Oregon
Ken Scott ~ Sculptor
Personal Statement ~ General Philosophy
At times, I imagine that every life story is like a conveyor belt leading from a mine of precious stones. In some lives, rough diamonds and emeralds glisten right on top amongst the dust and the rubble, but perhaps there are even larger ones imbedded in the rocks. The belt rumbles and bounces along day and night; some fall right out onto the ground, others just radiate brilliance for all to see, testifying perhaps to the mother lode that is still in the mine, and testifying also to the awesome potential in every life... Surely we're all hoping for treasure.
Though the belt might slow down and even stop at times, it never breaks, until we die. And even though the picks, the shovels, and the dynamite blasts away at our souls continually, it's hard to believe that our life stories are the jewels and the rubble, and the conveyor belts... But we just work here, we're not the owners of the mines, and we're not the only ones hoping for treasure.
I confess that from somewhere deep within the bowels of that mine, in the context of my own human experience and circumstance, there are times when I see my own futility. I see the awesome spectacle of mankind and my own contribution to that spectacle. At those times I can barely endure it. I can either pretend it doesn't exist or be crushed by it. Even so, I am bombarded with it at every turn. To be overwhelmed again and again. I escape by burrowing further into the dirt, twisting and turning in distractions of vocation, hobby, diversions. . . rooting in the mine for earthly things. . . while shoring up with grand purpose.
Is it an accident that occasionally I pop out into the daylight? Subconsciously digging upward... suddenly exposed to the light... embarrassed at where I have been? Or perhaps I'm simply overwhelmed by the job of digging, and have come up of my own freewill, in need of the light. Either way, those are the good days, when I am bathed in light, daring to hope in God. I see that conveyor belt at work, and I am at once blessed and baffled to know that my life has purpose. As surprised as anyone else at the jewels in the dirt and rocks!
And then something comes over me. Boredom? How long can I watch an empty belt rumble along anyway? Or maybe the light is just too much. I have many purposes, but not all are known to me. I focus on the digging. There is no end to the toils of man.
I'm a sculptor of metals, looked upon by most of humanity as happy and successful... and that could be true, but how did I finally focus? Have I always been artistic? Why metal sculpture?
In my opinion everything that exists in this universe has a spiritual meaning, running parallel to the physical... just waiting to be understood. It may sound trite and overused, but I have found that Love is the key that works the best and turns the lock the easiest. Love holds the whole thing together. And not only that... Love packages it in such a way that lesser creatures capable of responding to love can grow.
In the realm of art, I'm responding to a gift from Someone who knows me very well and loves me very much. Such generosity has opened my eyes; set my feet on the path, and the hope of this same Love leads me onward... in spite of my own stubbornness.
Love demands expression and must be communicated to others. And what are the arts if not self expression? All use language of one kind or another. . . body language, music, lyrics, colors. . .. speaking out in sublime, and esoteric ways perhaps, but waiting for interpretation. Interpretation is what the reader, viewer, or listener does in response to the arts.
As an initiator and an innovator, I look for ways to make something out of nothing. It gives me great pleasure to make-do with what is at hand, to find the gold amongst the rubble. To initiate requires a certain amount of courage. Courage is not confidence, it is desire in action... a willingness to risk one's self for that which is desired. Patience is desire in action too... a willingness to wait for that which is desired. Love initiates its desires, courageously, patiently, innovatively, and aggressively... whatever it takes to attain it's goals. Following its own rules while preserving the integrity and the safety of all concerned.
A vision of any magnitude, small or great, if it is motivated by love, is a goal worthy of exploration, if not completion. Love inspires action, it always has... and it always will. Passive love is no love at all, but merely an insipid, weak affection; a borderline wish for the real thing; a mere spark without fuel. Love demands, motivates, initiates, innovates, cries out to the heavens for fulfillment, and flows like a river to a destination all its own. Not carving haphazardly, but shaping, contouring, and refreshing whatever is in its path.
How could it be otherwise? There are no victims of Love; Love always benefits... but there are victims of desire. Desire can be misplaced, distorted, poorly timed, selfishly pursued, confused with love, blind and destroy. That's where we, as humans, make our mistakes. I can honestly say that Love is the supreme motive. Precision, harmony, color, form, texture, gentleness, compassion, tears, are all a part of Love... and Love is God.
Metal Sculpting is not a casual experience. It is like working in a metal scrap yard with hard hats and torches. . . dodging sparks, and cooling quenched fingers all day long. And usually every project reaches a point that seems more like a pile of scrap than what you had hoped for. To succeed you have to stay with it. . . not to a point of perfection necessarily, but at least until both the artist and the project reaches a certain standard. That standard grows with an artist's experiences.
With metals, the sky is the limit. . . literally. Skyscrapers, ocean liners, pocket watches. And whether the design is geometric or organic, it's all possible! Accomplishment is what I long for. Design is what I enjoy most. Architecture and Landscape provide an opportunity for fulfillment in that area for me. Metals, as a medium, suits my temperament and my character. . . sensitive and aggressive. . . a good combination of character traits for the role of sculptor.
To bring forth gentle pools of water, crashing waves on rocky shores, or to portray the wings of herons... all in cold steel... requires not only skillful, feather-like strokes from a harsh three thousand rpm grinder, but an understanding of the components of nature itself. As an intercessor between nature and my medium, I work from that position. . . in the middle. An artist's work will declare his or her ability to observe both the medium and the subject.
Selecting from nature's vast array of color and form, one must compress ideas into the medium of choice. Ideas are formed from this palate of familiarity; projects begin, and decisions are made amidst serendipity discoveries from a hands-on position. Ideas are wonderful, but sweat and time are far more valuable commodities. With dedication and commitment, the work and the worker grow in expression, until eventually the essence of an entire landscape can be captured with just a few strokes of a sanding disk. . . the contours of a snow-capped mountain undulate on a triangle of silver.
The collector is drawn-in subtly, if not subconsciously, as a participant in the creative process. Initially there may be an appreciation for the subject, but hopefully the design itself will supersede, directing the eye from one detail to another without ever leaving the boundaries of the subject. This subject-neutral perspective opens opportunities for further delight... you see the forest and the trees.
The solid mass is defined by the space surrounding it, and will, in turn, proclaim dimension and importance to the negative, or empty space. So much so, that the truly good, enduring work of art will demand from the viewer an intensified quest for less, not more. A search for simplicity in form and design, rather than over-statement.
Sculpture (form) always subordinates itself to the medium. Familiarity with the medium is a prerequisite for any project. Artists must interpret according to their own understanding of their medium. Certain subjects simply do not lend themselves to a particular medium. The viewer may not understand why a particular work has appeal, but the suitability of subject and medium plays a vital part of their appreciation. The sculptor who has a grasp of the medium he or she works in, will tend to satisfy an audience purposely, and effectively. The result will be successful projects.
Art is a spiritual experience, from the standpoint of both appreciation and creation. Humility is synonymous with teachability. To take the lower position is to surrender to the loved one. Considering him, her, it, them, or they, above your own needs, is an act of love. Sacrifice and service is motivated by love of something. . . whether that something is honorable or dishonorable time will tell. If the work of art endures it will be because it was conceived in love, executed in the most appropriate materials possible, with the greatest of care possible, and then preserved in an atmosphere of appreciation.
Every artist surrenders to that relationship to one degree or another. To love deeply is to observe infinitely the beloved. To pay acute attention to the subject and the medium within the creative process is an act of love.
A shoddy approach, resulting in inferior work testifies to one of two possibilities. Either love is not in process at all, or it has just begun. If it has just begun the rule will be growth and measurable progress from one project to the next, flowering into a most wonderful organic, self-generating, fruitful expression of the medium. If on the other hand the work is trite, cold, disturbing, shocking, imbalanced, it must be surmised that the artist has not moved on in love. Or the love was for something other than the art. . . money, fame, approval, social change, or a convoluted conglomerate of all the above.
Falling in love is unmistakable to those watching, and to whomever it is happening. Finite mediums do not exist, finite people do. Every risk of shame is worth the potential of possessing the beloved... or in other words, a public display of our own creativity and the subsequent acknowledgment of success by an audience is worth the effort expended.
On the other hand there are those who have the presumption that success comes without hard work. And it is unwise (putting it gently) to assume that those who are standing on peaks higher than our own, have and enjoy their view without having made the difficult climb upward.
Determination is not the same as patience. Patience implies waiting, whereas determination implies action, aggression, and tenacity. Inspiration may bring an idea onto the work-bench, but determination combined with your own standards of excellence is what drives a project to completion. There is no substitution for hard work, and commitment. But keep in mind that these attributes or characteristics will be a natural flow in the love relationship.
To most creative people ideas are abundant and the love of a medium will only increase that phenomena. Inspiration is vital and gets us started but the deadlines (both the buyers and our own) will make us finish. In order for an idea to qualify as a project it should meet the following criteria: Does it glorify the medium, or would it be better left for the potter, or painter? Does it stretch the artist's knowledge of the medium or offer a challenge? Can you pull it off with style? Will it be tasty, stimulating to the viewer? Will it find a home when it is finished? If it is to be a limited edition how many homes must be found? If it is to be an expensive piece will the persons who could afford to buy such a piece appreciate it?
Marketing may not be an issue if you simply feel that you "must create," but I'm not a purist and frankly there is no greater endorsement than having someone acknowledge your effort with fruit from their own efforts.
The pressures of deadlines (financial or otherwise) serve as valuable shaping tools. Actually shaping or sculpting the artist, refining both technique and character with circumstances... demanding styles or techniques which applaud economy of motion and effort.
Certainly one who taps into the realm of creativity would be compelled to acknowledge the One Great and Supreme Creator. Worship of the thing created must lead to an appreciation, or at the very least an interest in the one who created it. Whether an allegiance, or bond occurs beyond that interest and appreciation is dependent upon sublime factors, such as timing and the personal growth of each individual person.
To be original is to be God. To be the re-creator of a thing is to be akin to God (or at least fresh on His trail). Infinite variety testifies to the infinite God. Unique works in boundless expressions of joy and beauty evoke emotions of a positive nature. Tears of joy, and laughter because we "get it," should be our response to His creation.
When I was fourteen years old I slept in parked cars for shelter; joined the Navy at fifteen years of age (because I was hungry) and by the time I was twenty eight, I had been married twice, been in hundreds of fist-fights, boozed my way into oblivion, drugged myself into ecstasy, and philosophized myself into ignorance. But I had moved up in the world: or at least through the world. I had escaped rightful punishment for many wrong deeds; escaped deserved death (from acts of plain foolishness) again and again; Worked the nine-to-five routine. . . selling my body for so much an hour at jobs that bored me to death. . . and somehow I had come full circle. Nearly homeless again, if I had held up a sign on the street corner for passing cars, it would've read "Homeless... and Happy... Honk, if you love Jesus!"
I felt no disgrace to be living in a tiny, one car garage with a dirt floor. My six year old son and I slept in crude bunk beds made from two-by fours, and used the bathroom next door. I had a '54 Ford pickup truck; oxygen-acetylene tanks and a torch; sheet steel and a hammer; and a pine stump to pound metal on. . . And once each week, I could be found at the Eugene Saturday Market, telling anyone who asked, how I got started, and why in the world was I so happy. That was 1971.
This is the answer I had then and it's still true. I surrendered the creation, myself, back to the Creator and asked the simple question: Why was I created?
Although life's circumstances and my own personal choices had definitely refined (or reduced) me to a great degree, my own stubborn notions and preconceptions could still have easily sidetracked me from that moment of choice. But what caught my attention in a lifetime of mired direction was the innocence in the eyes of little children, and the beauty of the natural world around me. Confronted with my own deficiencies, I had no other choice, I wanted to know more of that innocence.
And please don't misunderstand... I'm still confronted daily with my own deficiency in that department. I've become very good at some things in my life, but still quite aware that Love (God) is like a river, and it's up to me to let it flow through my being... by asking.
© Kenneth M. Scott
All rights reserved (11-15-2003)