THE SOUND OF BEING IMPALED
Exhibited at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017
THE SOUND OF BEING IMPALED
I was hatched from a Robin's egg in Detroit Michigan at the peak of car culture in the early 1960’s. We had blue pencils in our house. Not just regular number 2 pencils, proper drafting/drawing pencils that ranged from soft to hard lead. My dad worked in the wood shop at Chrysler. We were a Union family and we had blue pencils. My father carried these pencils in his front pocket to and from work each day. This blue color has been haunting my art work for years, but until recently I wasn't sure why. It was just a few days ago that I finally remembered the pencils. They were a prefect cerulean blue with a little white Chrysler logo on top. They were the color of a perfect Michigan sky. I was the only kid in my class with blue pencils and it made me feel special. It was one of the fist things I recognized as making me unique. I knew I was an artist and I knew that blue was special.
The Sound of Being Impaled, my latest body of work, highlights that blue. It consists of 7 papier-mâché and encaustic wax sculptures, with crystal and mineral marble elements, all featuring that color blue. This combination of elements, the warm organic quality of paper and wax, contrast the hard edge of stone and crystal. The end result feels both contemporary and ancient.
The process of layering paper into sculptures is laborious. One paper thin layer after another, is added slowly, day after day, held together with flour, water and salt. Over time a perceptible form emerges. These forms become more complicated as the work progresses. The energy of day to day life events becomes a part of these evolving shapes. In this intense meditative process, I am constantly reacting to subtle changes in the work and the world around me.
In the 3 years that it took for this process to play out, many things have happened. The most devastating of which was my father’s Cancer diagnosis and subsequent death a year later. In that year, we shared many phone calls, me in my studio, him sometimes at home and other times in a hospital bed.
We shared laughs, discussed politics and the ups and downs of his final journey. Ultimately, he passed away last August. The hyper energy of the last election and its eventual outcome, had me curled up in a ball on the floor in November, but it didn’t keep me from adding more layers to the sculptures. It forced me to refocus and create. My generally privileged life was hit again earlier this year when I lost my dear pet Iguana, a friend I cared for over 20 years. I then received the news that both my dogs have Cancer. It sounds like the plot of a bad movie, but in life and art one must move forward through the layers of hope and pain.
These kinds of life events come without warning, like hearing a horrific sound and not really knowing the source. You know it's bad, very bad, but don't really know what “it” is. There exists that moment, when time seems to stop and you exist in a bubble, knowing everything has changed, evoking a feeling of being emotionally impaled. There is everything up to that moment and then an unknown new reality in front of you. Gasp! Okay, now what? We move forward slowly at first with caution into the uncharted darkness. Those that have gone on, remain with us in a different way. Every so often, we stop and look at the accumulation of layers and take stock of the beauty therein. After that gasp moment has passed and the unknown is revealed, we must find a way forward and see that there is love, humor and light in the layers.
Tracey St. Peter