The Night That Made This Day
26"h x 16"l x 14"w; 1989
Photo by Jerome Hart
It is always interesting to find out what people think of your work, and to hear what it means to them. Several of my pieces have been greeted with a hostility that I was quite unprepared for. The feature that has most often garnered the strongest protestation is the shackling of hands or feet. While the point of the shackles is clearly, in my mind, commentary, to some, it comes across as artist’s fantasy! In this piece, “The Night That Made This Day”, the point I intended with the shackles is that dignity is not so easily squelched in certain people, regardless of how heavy the load they bear. So much of how we endure has a back story, and that story can lend context as to how we shoulder our burdens. If our spirit has been broken in our youth, by abuse or neglect, we might fold under some circumstances that we may have endured with more resilience, had we been better nurtured.
On a purely aesthetic level, it is true that I like wire and chains. I find that fine elements not only lend a pleasing contrast to mass, but they take a patina quite differently, making the light/dark transitions more compelling in the finished piece.
I wire and chain things together for any number of reasons, but none of them are any part of personal fantasy, at least as far as my diagnosis goes into my own psyche.
In “The Night That Made This Day”, the inspiration was a photograph of my mother sitting on the hearth beside the fire. She isn’t in chains, but I admire how she has put things behind her that she cannot change, and has lived with dignity and grace. We all wear some chains.