“For me, the spiritual in artwork is essential. Spiritual art – especially power objects from Native peoples – are my main inspiration. An authentic power object inspires and mystifies me. I don’t pretend to fully understand the power – I am only able to sense the power. Much of my work is inspired by male and female energy. As an artist, I use symbols – numeric and geometric – to represent these most powerful elements of life and the universe. My art is about contrast, both in time and space. What interests me are the images that live in the mind long after the reality is gone.”
His creations have been featured in: The Grand Palais in Paris, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Museum of the American Indian in both Washington, DC and New York City, and the Heard Museum in Phoenix.
As a child, I had dirt under my fingernails and spent hours playing in the mud. Today I continue to allow the earth to feed me information for my art. Working intuitively from pounds of wet red clay, forms appear and stories develop. I may be questioning an occurrence or celebrating a relationship or just being aware of the precious environment. The search continues until I reach the core: the spiritual level of the sculpture. Then the work can speak. At the present, I am exploring new territory in Abiquiu, New Mexico while embracing my southern heritage. Often symbols are used in the work such as the color red or three dots to honor my mother or the raven as a symbol for my new life in the west. I am “touching ground”, getting to the basics, listening and learning.
Each sculpture is hand built, using thick coils, and fired three to five times depending on the color and surface I am trying to achieve. I approach the color on the clay as a painter. My palette is a combination of oxides, slips, underglazes, and glazes. The form of the piece informs the type of surface treatment.
I have been an artist-metalsmith for 35 years. Aesthetically, my work often centers on abstract architecture and landscapes, and semiotics, but after coming to New Mexico five years ago, some of my work is beginning to show the influence of the desert, geology, and cultures that surround me. I am particularly interested in pushing the idea of “ring”—what a ring can be, while still being wearable. Jewelry at its best is wearable art.
One of my interests is exploring unusual metals and materials, usually in combination with gold, to create jewelry and small-scale sculpture. In 1979, I published a seminal paper, which became my Master of Fine Arts thesis, on the use of, and coloring of titanium, tantalum, and niobium, and other "refractory" metals for jewelry and sculpture. I have also developed gold alloys whose colors range from whites, to yellows, pinks, reds, greens, purples, and blues. These metals and alloys give me a large palate for creating new designs. I am currently experimenting with non-traditional techniques for applying color and images to jewelry, and using super-low-density solids for jewelry and small-scale sculpture.
I am a multi-disciplined artist working in photography, painting, sculpture, and sculpture-relief paintings. Over the past forty years I have produced five portfolios, including several series of sculpture-relief paintings, paintings on canvas and paper, and photography series both in color and in B&W silver and platinum palladium prints on tissue paper. I founded the Abiquiu Workshops in Abiquiu, New Mexico, and I lead small tours of the area for photographers, painters and naturalists.
Two books of my photography have been published: “Ribbons Of Time: The Dalquest Research Site," covering the Big Bend area of Texas; and “The Black Place: Two Seasons,” focused on the area in New Mexico where Georgia O’Keeffe painted and produced one of her most beautiful abstract paintings called “Black Place II,” which is owned by the Metropolitan Museum.
In 1989, author Douglas J. Preston and I retraced Coronado's journey through Arizona and New Mexico on horseback, traveling a distance of 1000 miles over a 70-day period. Douglas recounted our journey in his widely acclaimed book “Cities Of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest,” and I documented the adventure with a combination of 8x10 and 35mm cameras.
My process of working may best be described by paraphrasing a quote from the late Israeli artist, Moshe Kupferman. “…I first put in emotion and expression. Next, I cover it up. Then, I put in silence…” While, the process and product are important to me, I feel both are dead without passion. It is the passion that sustains me as an artist and human being.
Abiquiu has an extraordinarily rich cultural and natural history. The geology, flora and fauna, its history, myths, and light have influenced the many world-class artists who live, and have lived here. Abiquiu is also a stepping-stone into a wilder land. When you walk beyond the roads, beyond the trails, you enter a place where humans may not have walked in hundreds of years. The past is nearby, and you become part of it. Abiquiu, is a place that fosters imagination.
Photo of Georgia O'Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz, 1918