Emerging from the woods

Of the spectrum of portfolios, Lumenhorse is the broadest and longest-running. I’ve come to think of it as an umbrella term that encompasses a large swath of my artistic endeavors in the past fifteen-plus years. It’s a derivation of windhorse, a name applied collectively to various devices, such as prayer wheels and flags, used to release one’s prayers and intentions beyond the earthly realm. For me, the operative vehicle is light. The horse aspect intrigues me, with its suggestion of energized physicality pulsing with life. 

Familial

After many years of intensive furniture making, this work germinated in the course of  graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth on the northeast coast of the United States, from 1999-2002. Here, at last, I had room to explore my deeper artistic rhythms and uncover the essential roots of my creativity. I left the program with so much more than a Master of Fine Art degree; the wellspring of my work was clear, and the cadence of its unfolding continues to this day with the Lumenpear, Skyhull, and Seedpod series.


Alight
Familial (height: approx. 72"), made from elm tree branches, was a transitional piece from wood furniture to sculptural lighting. Its curving lines that seemed to hold space introduced the idea of working with armatures, and suggested a line of exploration with skin-like surfaces. 







This naturally led to working with paper pulp of various sorts, and lots of contact with the Fibers department. Alight (width: 30") has copper wire "bones," and a skin of flax fiber. A series of pieces in this vein opened the work into a study of creating a sense of intimacy in physical spaces.

Anomalons

Anomalons: Coleoptic
 
The exploration of spatial intimacy inspired by pieces like Alight was indirectly furthered by a commission to create four sets of suspended, low-voltage lighting systems for a home in Santa Cruz, California. The challenge was to translate the forms I was exploring in paper into fixtures that would easily withstand the quite high temperatures of the bulbs available at the time. In the search for malleable metal materials, I discovered what would become two of my favorite materials: wire cloth and very thin copper sheet metal. 













With some experimentation, I was able to work them into undulating convex and concave surfaces. The wire cloth turned out to be quite translucent, which revealed tantalizing possibilities for layering. While this project incorporated little of that effect, what it suggested would have quite an effect on the next pieces.


An essential aspect of the Anomalons installation was to bring the natural forms of the gardens surrounding the house indoors, so I arranged the power-conducting wires in a vine-like fashion, and hung them with tendril supports. In all, I made ten each of four fixture designs, which seemed as much to swim as fly below the vines.

Translucent layers in metal

Translumen







The next pieces were a natural extension of the Anomalons project. These were part of an explorative journey in overlapping landscapes of plant and animal forms to create realms of intimate space where interior and exterior were blurred.




La Fem














Tao of Twin

















As with Anomalons, these creatures were made from copper, brass, and stainless steel wire-cloth; hammered copper sheet metal; and (because temperature was not an issue) waxed-linen thread. Translumen (height: 36") and La Fem (height: 21") also incorporated fiber-optics to bring the light source down to the lower tips. They, and Tao of Twin (height: 42"), have rib-like structures wrapped in waxed-linen thread.

Miz Thang





At 68" tall, Miz Thang has a human scale, so the average-sized person looks right into her face. She has a waxed-linen thread skin over raffia flesh on twisted copper wire bone, and a shade of flax fiber sprayed over beaten brass wire-cloth, and a brass wire-cloth skirt. This piece reintroduced the earlier work with paper into the process, but more as an element among many, rather than a primary focus.
















There was an extraordinary amount of thread-wrapping with this piece, and a lovely meditation that work was. The copper structure has an elastic flexibility, so touching her results in gentle, gyrating motion. For me, Miz Thang seems at various times elegant or fierce, but always sexy... a sort of "lady neo-centaur."


Floriform Variations















The combination of grounding, binding, gesture, and efflorescent release of these pieces had me entranced. From the lightness of armatures and paper, the work had evolved into bronze-based creatures with intensely wrapped stem-bodies that seemed to erupt into light-bearing opening.


 

Cloud Nipper







After modeling the base in clay, I made a plaster cast, and had a set of them sand cast in bronze at a local foundry. I then chased (finished) and patina-ed the raw castings.


As Floriform Variations progressed, it seemed that, while they symbolized a core part of my experience in this world, I’d come back around echo-like to the Treebone Garden work, in that they were functional, dense, and very labor-intensive. I knew then that a major release was in order.


Duneworks




Several months before the point at which I realized the work had become too dense (one might say it had for me “too much Earth element”), I had applied for an artist’s residency held in historic painter’s shacks out in the dunes of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on the northeast coast of the United States. When I was given a two-week stay in early summer, the timing couldn’t have been better.

 

This was an extraordinary opportunity to surrender the work to what my soul would make in response to an intense meeting of Earth, Sky, and Water. Without electricity, everything would be done by hand, and I took this as a cue to strip the process of making to its essence. For materials, I brought coils of copper wire, several pieces of gauze cloth, and a bit of linen thread—all of which harkened back to the earlier work with armatures and skins, such as Alight. I’d come around full circle, but to a whole new place in my creative process.

Terra Flitten and the dune shack

Soon after arriving, I felt a calling to honor those intense elements with landscape pieces celebrating pairings of each. Given my innate resonance with meetings of Earth and Sky, I began with that pairing, and created an anenome-like form that felt like a portal between. I called this one Terra Flitten.
There was enough material to have the company of one while I made the next. This time, the meeting was of Earth and Water. Terra Flitten had wanted to move about to different vantage points, but this one, Dune Waven, was perfectly content to perch on a small mound of dune.
Dune Waven on its sandy perch


The third pairing was of Water and Sky, and this turned out to be the most exquisite, soul-releasing creative experience to that point in my life. In collaboration with the prevailing wind, I made Agua Wingen, which funneled the air along four meters of gauze cloth. As soon as I had it adjusted, it took on a life of its own. It took my heart into sublime flight and released it to Sky. I knew then that if for some reason I never sculpted again, I could pass from this world knowing that I had experienced the essence of what my soul would express.

Agua Wingen

Some other commissioned pieces


Autumnal: daytime






Here are some selected commissions from the earlier Lumenhorse work, all of which incorporate copper armatures and handmade flax fiber paper.


Autumnal: dusk





Autumnal (width: 9'), was inspired by the maple tree-filled ravine this home overlooks. This large piece incorporates several species of native leaf patterns, as well as a 20-foot length of flexible LED lighting.




Autumnal: study



This study for the larger leaf forms shows the effect of looking up through a woodland canopy and seeing layers of leaves turning color in the fall. Those layers have been “compressed” into a single leaf.


Similarly, Elipsis (length: 8') has a translucent forest canopy-inspired play of layered handmade flax fiber paper. This was installed in a very large, open room comprising kitchen, dining room, living room, and foyer.
Elipsis













A primary design objective was to provide a sense of intimacy in the table space by creating a source of warm light that would act as a sculptural “ceiling”—helping to give the space a more human scale.
Unbound








At 6 feet tall, Unbound has a human scale as well. This one harkens back to the Floriform Variations series, though rather than simply emerging from density at the base, its bound, curving stem seems to release into both Earth and Sky.

















Another departure from those earlier pieces is in the binding itself: Here, the copper “ligaments” emerge from, and re-submerge back under, the segments of fleshy waxed-linen wrapping along the stem.