Invariably, I find myself drawn to old and frayed materials which I find on the streets, in the woods, on beaches. Their scars and eroded surfaces encode the history of their life to-date. Discarded, they have passively completed one cycle of their existence.
But, nothing ever really disappears; it is only a question of what form it will take in its next manifestation – haze in the atmosphere, a future petroleum deposit in the earth, baby diapers made from recycled material, or what?
Using these old artifacts to build my sculpture is a bit like finding Cinderella among the ashes of the hearth: if only my vision is clear enough and I can fit the slipper correctly, the result will be an elegant, beautiful entity which will live happily ever after.
On the other hand, if I make an error of judgment or look away for a moment, unfortunately, the result is sure to be an ugly step-sister.
Often, as I work, it feels to me as if I am playing the part of the lovelorn but manifestly clueless seeker of the elusive princess: should the next piece fit this way or that way? What seems best, or even possible, given this moment and circumstance? And, by the way - is this really Cinderella whose ankle I am oh so furtively groping, or am I, yet again, at the wrong address and about to make a fool of myself?
But then, if I do get something right, a transformation begins, and the whole process feels like it lifts itself out of my hands. Apparently, this being has the ability to shape itself once it receives the impetus to do so. The internal logic of its structure asserts itself, and it somehow becomes its next reincarnation.
However - a word of caution: it is a bit simplistic to expect this process to result in a smiling, flawlessly virginal being, as happens in fairy tales. Remember, this stuff already has a history.
Sometimes, the results have animistic streaks, or self-absorbed physical natures that are concerned only with their own movements. Sometimes, they retain a wry sense of humor, or an awareness of the absurdity of the world and their place in it. Often, they manifest themselves in some morphed /animal/vegetable/human form which is unconcerned with intelligence, custom, or precedence – a presence, an organism which is able to be itself – and the alchemy is complete.Keith Long Paris, September, 2011