Submission; May the Spirit Go with You

During a 2004 sabbatical leave from Dordt, I proposed to produce new paintings, Plene Air style and a secondary interest in printmaking and ceramic sculpture. The paintings were difficult.  My advice is to not drop techniques that you finally master, and for me, 20 years was a long time to get my painting legs back; I did get them back, but not before deviating to stone lithography and clay sculpture that came more naturally to me(because I keep those skills up). I produced several promising 3ft tall figurative works in stoneware and porcelain clay and one in particular, called Submission, involved an angelic figure locked into a behind the arms embrace with an ambiguous, anthropomorphic form. It has held a strong interest for me and recently, in 2017, I completed a 5ft tall, 485 lb. version in stoneware in 3 sections. The following is a statement for the work:

The essential female figure represents both vulnerability and acceptance of complete control; submission to a higher force. The newest work is larger, more complex, and also has spiritual undertones. I have worked with Angel entities; the investigation of the mystery of celestial beings through a variety of images in drawings, prints, and clay sculpture for the past 45 years. See and Submission took on a life of its own during creation with the intertwining figures and additional limbs suggesting simultaneous support and constraint. This is a natural outcome of this method of working as one must allow the lower portions to dry enough to support the weight of the clay as it builds up and planning must proceed in-progress with few changes possible on the lower portions due to the drying clay.

From another artist: “Thank you for sharing your powerful work.  It transcends any interpretation that I try to place on it, and yet evokes a sense of strength and beauty in its ‘struggle’ which is further enhanced by the use of blue on the front figure. I keep moving from front to back, female to male, and then another interpretation presents itself. Inspiring, beautiful, professional piece of art. “ Most who view the work, are positively impacted, often not knowing what to say, but moved in-spite of its ambiguity. It also won a best of Show at a regional show at Northwestern College, Orange City, where 140 works were submitted and 40 were displayed. While the responses were encouraging, one never quite knows how edgy works may be received, and  I often think of a quote I recently became aware of from an art student at Dordt in connection with a work such as Submission. ‘Art comforts the disturbed, and disturbs the comfortable.’