REVIEW BY JOHN EDWARDS
In the increasingly superstitious - what Carl Sagan called "demonhaunted"- world, inanimate matter is thought to emit force fields that extend out to the edge of the universe
and into the labyrinthine depths of eon
New agers, and even those who don't understand that they are new agers, talk about the "spiritual power" of small stones and mystic places. In "For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio," W.H. Auden warned that in an-age where "reason will be replaced by revelation, divine honours will be paid to shallow depressions in the earth, domestic
pets, [and ruined windmills ..."
I am not given to such imbuings of base matter with cosmic significance, nor do I think trees possess "wisdom," but it's hard not to feel the vibe of wood. Walk into any decently appointed library, and the cocoon of walnut and mahogany does indeed seem to pulse with life. It's odd, then, that so few pieces of wood sculpture manages to do that, too.
Wood carries a warm, organic aura so strong
that evocative sculpture can be produced
merely with raw timber masses ("River's Edge," Dennis Leon, 1990, or "Blind Eugenic," Ursala von Rydingsvard, 1994). But a lot of wood sculpture in Western art remains either sterilely skillful ("St. George Altar," Jan Borman the Elder, c. 1500) or preciously "primitive" "Hostess," Elie Nadelman, 1920).
Sculpture seeks to evoke life from lifeless matter, what artist Gary Spinosa calls "brute numinosity," the physical act of turning stuff