In 1981, “Abstract Figure,” a limestone sculpture I created that year, was purchased for $1000. from a Stone Sculpture Society exhibition at Lever House on Park Avenue in New York. As a young artist just starting to show my work, I was thrilled. I lost touch with the piece until this week when I received a note through my website asking if I had created it, and if so, would I provide additional information about the work and the process of making it.
I was prompted to revisit 1979-1982, when my practice focused on stone carving. I worked with Minoru Niizuma, an abstract stone sculptor, in the undergraduate art department at Columbia University. He was a wonderful mentor, who helped me secure a place in the Iwate Sculpture Symposium in Numakunai, Japan, where, during the summer of 1982, I created a large scale granite piece for the town sculpture garden. He also contacted his friend Isamu Noguchi and arranged for me to visit him in Shinkoku. My afternoon visiting with Noguchi and touring his studio in Japan is one of my most memorable art experiences.
Abstract Figure, pictured in a photo sent by its current owner, was one of several stone works I made during this time. I loved the physicality of carving stone and the challenge of creating from such dense material. I was firmly attached to the minimalist aesthetic and stone carving offered a copacetic material and process.
In September, 1982 I entered Columbia’s Master of Fine Arts Program, intending to concentrate on stone sculpture. Two weeks into the program I broke my finger and the doctor prohibited me from using a chisel for eight weeks. That event prompted me to investigate alternate materials and techniques, especially since I needed to create a body of work for end of the semester faculty critiques. My practice expanded to include a variety of traditional and nontraditional materials and all sorts of new ways to construct objects. To this day, I continue to work in a many media, attempting to marry material, technique and subject matter.
Though I no longer carve stone, I was happy to be reminded of my time doing so.