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Artist ID: 2457

Willow Tree Reliquary was created as part of the exhibition shown from August 28- November 18, 2021, honoring the willow oak tree that stood for over a hundred years on the lawn of the Lyndon House Art Center in Athens, Georgia. Each of the artists invited to participate received wood from the felled tree to incorporate into a work for the exhibition.
The project brought to my mind the destruction wrought by hurricane Opal in 1995. Devastating vast areas in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, the storm felled many centuries-old trees. Around my home in Alabama, I witnessed mighty canopy oaks lying on the ground, their limbs strewn about like dead warriors. The Lyndon House oak was for me like one of these—a “saintly” tree dead before its time. I therefore decided that the length of wood given me was a kind of “relic,” for which I made a reliquary patterned after the ancient tradition of containers designed to display and to protect the sacred remains of a holy person, such as bone fragments or remnants of clothing. Just as the often fragile relic is placed unaltered inside an ornate encasement, I left the piece of wood much as it was given to me. From a practical point of view, however, the rotted wood made alteration almost impossible. I then created an ornate welded steel housing for it. The shape of the steel cage is significant, moreover. Cocoon-like, it suggests the notion of rebirth. Just as a saint is reborn into eternal life, so, too, will this tree live on in the art made from its substance.

Clouded in Shadows
Crafted of a kaleidoscopic interplay of welded steel and fiberglass covered in stove ash, Clouded in Shadows gives visual form to the confusing and contradictory voices in contemporary politics and its coverage by the media. The irregular, bulbous form carries a convoluted and subversive subtext, that is, the dangers of illusion and deception.

Saint Jumbo
Saint Jumbo (2020) celebrates the life and mysterious death of Jumbo, the elephant. Born in
Sudan, Jumbo was captured by hunters who killed his mother. First sent to the Jardin des Plants in Paris, he was subsequently transferred to the London Zoo. P.T. Barnum then brought him to the United States. Despite sadistic treatment by his handlers, Jumbo was loved for his gentle, indeed “saintly” nature. The elephant’s death in a train accident has long been the source of heated controversy. Was it truly an accident? Or was he murdered to cover up the cruelty he had suffered?

I grew up in Troy, Alabama, whose rural atmosphere has given me an abiding appreciation for the mysteries and rhythms of nature. To this propensity for the outside world, I include an equally expansive knowledge of tradition, symbolism, and number, enhanced by many years teaching both sculpture, ceramics, drawing, and visual arts as an adjunct instructor at Troy University. Since the late 80s, I have produced seven major series, sometimes ongoing and often overlapping. My recent work, moreover, reveals an assessment of social interaction, in short, the human condition.

My work has been reviewed in Sculpture, World Sculpture News, Southern Quarterly, Number, and Art Papers. I have also received an artist fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the 2015 Southeastern Art Conference Fellowship (SECAC). I earned an MFA from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. I currently work in my studio at Comer, Georgia.

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