Berçant notre infini sur le fini des mers...
"Awakening to this present instant, we realize the infinite is in the finite of each instant." Zen Master
Since I started casting iron, I have been able to acknowledge the parallels of my sculpture and my paintings. The textures of the sculptures are often reflected in the paintings, and the structure of the paintings captured in the sculptures.
As I have mentioned before, my paintings are a form of meditation for me. I lose myself in the vastness. This awe of the sublime is awakened during the process of casting iron, as well. I have often compared the process of casting to the Japanese tea ceremony. "The intense concentration needed to perform a tea ceremony was both a discipline and a purification, for through the focusing of the mind on the microcosm of the tearoom, the rest of life's concerns would melt away." Wabi Sabi: The Art of Impermanence.
After my first month at Sculpture Trails, where I first poured iron, I jotted down an impression it had left on me: The feeling I get when I am pouring doesn't compare to anything. When I have the ladle in my hands, I am so in the moment. Nothing else matters except that metal. I am so calm and composed. I am never as concentrated on anything as I am on the metal and the ladle.
When I arrived at Sloss Furnaces I was able to break the rules without a fight. Making nontraditional molds with Zak Helenske, the experience was heightened. With the reaction of moisture and metal in our clay molds, our attention could not waiver. As we poured iron into our molds in tandem, we were completely conscious of each others movements as the driver guided the ladle around the surface. With our level of intimacy, this intuition was almost natural for us, like the dance we perform in our every day lives.
Unfortunately, after so many pours at Sloss, I cannot say that the iron casting process has the same romantic effect on me. It has become more routine than spiritual, but I can still appreciate and recall the intensity of my first experiences.
In these moments, starting out over the sea or into a stream of white hot metal, I am completely present. Despite the obvious differences of sitting on a terrace and pouring molten metal, I experience the same calm. The attention I give to the structure of the water emerges in the strands of metal I cast.
To a child who is fond of maps and engravings
The universe is the size of his immense hunger.
Ah! how vast is the world in the light of a lamp!
In memory's eyes how small the world is!
One morning we set out, our brains aflame,
Our hearts full of resentment and bitter desires,
And we go, following the rhythm of the wave,
Lulling our infinite on the finite of the seas:
Some, joyful at fleeing a wretched fatherland;
Others, the horror of their birthplace; a few,
Astrologers drowned in the eyes of some woman,
Some tyrannic Circe with dangerous perfumes.
Not to be changed into beasts, they get drunk
With space, with light, and with fiery skies;
The ice that bites them, the suns that bronze them,
Slowly efface the bruise of the kisses.
But the true voyagers are only those who leave
Just to be leaving; hearts light, like balloons,
They never turn aside from their fatality
And without knowing why they always say: "Let's go!"
Those whose desires have the form of the clouds,
And who, as a raw recruit dreams of the cannon,
Dream of vast voluptuousness, changing and strange,
Whose name the human mind has never known!
Astonishing voyagers! What splendid stories
We read in your eyes as deep as the seas!
Show us the chest of your rich memories,
Those marvelous jewels, made of ether and stars.
We wish to voyage without steam and without sails!
To brighten the ennui of our prisons,
Make your memories, framed in their horizons,
Pass across our minds stretched like canvasses.
Tell us what you have seen.
The Voyage, Charles Baudelaire