Blog

Esoteric Stencilism

Borrowing from the mystery traditions and folk medicine, this new collection of stencil cuts is for a series of stoneware wall tiles and covered jars that I’ll have for the Powderhorn Art Fair, Aug 5-6th. A smattering of these images will be featured on enameled copper jewelry as well, but decisions are yet to be made as to which designs make the cut (pun intended). The wall tiles and pendants are intended to act as a reminder to keep a wider perspective in mind, to flow around obstacles or attract abundance, to name just a few. We take subliminal cues from our environments all the time, here’s an attempt at deliberately seeding those spaces with intentional symbolism.

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Test Tiles

Have you ever had a thing that you had to do, lodged in the back of your consciousness, just waiting to be acknowledged and given room to breathe? This has been it for me since November. When there aren’t enough fresh moments to go around, months can slip by, when all I can do is get everything configured correctly for the operation, but can’t commit to it’s execution. The stars seem to have to be aligned in just such a way for the start to occur, but then, the rest will flow with greater and greater momentum as the front-end of the process get’s out of the way.

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Path Studies

I had a dream or something about playing around with varying combinations of point, line, direction and color, over a grid, as a way of mapping the story arc of a lifetime. The rules of the drawings are inspired by algorithms used by computers to solve pathfinding problems in spatial exercises. But looking at the simplicity of the image, I’m reminded of things like sigils, hobo signs and constellations, all to do with ways of finding one’s way. These are just quick renderings in colored pencil, but I’ve a mind to try them next in watercolor or guache.

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Interview with Photographer R.J. Kern

R.J. Kern brings a lighting kit and wellingtons with him into the field, giving the humble subjects of his pastoral photographs a luminescent quality as only an ‘animal fame maker’ could. In order to gain insight into his work, we’ve asked him to share a little about the process of capturing these remarkable images.

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Talismans

tal·is·man
>A stone, ring, or other object, engraved with figures or characters supposed to possess occult powers and worn as an amulet or charm.
>Any amulet or charm.
>Anything whose presence exercises a powerful influence on human feelings or actions.

These pieces are emblems of personal storytelling, designed to reinforce or diminish certain ideas that we presently hold about ourselves. If we need to altar something in our own inner space, they can act as a constant reminder of the change we want to see.

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Ritual Vessels

rit’.u.al
>A prescribed or established rite, ceremony, proceeding, or service: the ritual of the dead
>Any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner
>A prescribed code of behavior regulating social conduct (eg: shaking hands).

ves·sel
>A hollow utensil, such as a cup, vase, or pitcher, used as a container.

These are containers for water and medicine, blessings, visions and light. Some of them are intended for everyday use, some are to hold memories of a person or event. While they may vary widely in material and design, they are united in spirit.

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Dim Reflections

We empower symbols through the beliefs and associations we assign to them. When we agree to give something a shared meaning, we are multiplying its gravity. Sometimes symbols can become so strong that it is irrelevant whether you accept them as true or not, their power exists independently of belief. Accordingly, large institutions are given their own gravitational mass through widely accepted social bargains, reinforced by cooperative norms and expressed through the adoption of codes and customs.

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Altarpieces

al·tar·piece
>A piece of artwork, such as a painting or carving, that is placed above and behind an altar.

These are meditative images to live with and absorb slowly over time. They strive to be minimalist in composition, with a transcendent effect. Borrowing from patterns in nature and symbolism, each one documents moments along a path of spiritual inquiry.

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Interview with Painter D.C. Ice

I adore working with scratchboard, which is a sturdy masonite board that has a layer of white clay on it. The clay is completely covered with black india ink. The first step is to create the razor blade drawing. Every line will show, even under paint, one can see grooves made with the blade. No erasing can ever be done. After I draw with a razor blade-like pen, I paint close up next to the line-work. After that paint dries, I seal the work with a high gloss topcoat so the scratchboard can no longer be marred. I like the odd mix of the clean, thin line quality of the drawing and the painterly application of paint.

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Art Shape Mammoth

Last year, after having taken a two-year break from board work, I joined the board of directors for a placeless organization called Art Shape Mammoth. Started by some friends and neighbors I met living at the Tilsner Artist Co-operative in Lowertown St. Paul, they are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to connecting artists to new communities and supporting the development of artistic practice, dialogue, education, and research through creative public exchange. Programming includes;

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