My SCULPTURE is an extension of my belief in innate human strength and the restorative power of nature. Following on the tradition of narration and storytelling and the impact they have on our lives, I construct cultural and environmental themes using cambium fiber from the Asian Mulberry tree harvested in rural Laos. A previously unexplored natural medium, cambium fiber has natural cellular qualities and endless structural opportunities with traits of resilience, adaptability, and a fragile appearance. In four series of works, I imbue the fiber with these qualities innate to man and nature.
Each of the SOCIAL WARRIORS sculptures is a Call To Action meant to inspire the human qualities of strength, resilience and bravery to rise up and join the fight on the many new Social Battlegrounds. We are the Social Warriors.
As in nature, the ethereal quality of the biomorphic CAMBIUM FOREST series belies the strength that is its true nature.
THE GODS series looks at myth as a means of exploring the impact of storytelling. By creating life-size allegorical sculptures suggesting Greek mythology, the intent is to expand on the ongoing conversation regarding wisdom and the broader message of real world issues.
SYMBIOTIC SYSTEMS: We humans are precariously suspended in the natural world. The symbiotic relationship that connects man and nature is of ongoing interest to me as an artist who uses a majority of natural materials in my sculptural work. Using cambium fiber as a primary material, I embed human features representing man’s integral part in the natural world.
By seeing these life-sized warrior torsos and biomorphic forms, the viewer is asked to consider their own innate personal strength.
In my artwork, I have used the inner bark of the Asian mulberry tree harvested in rural Laos to convey my concepts. It was traditionally used by the indigenous mountainous tribes including the Yao people for religious rituals, making of rope and the wrapping of opium. Post-Vietnam War, it became part of an initiative to raise the standard of living of these mountain people in the making of paper products. It is an important cash crop and plays a central role in the livelihood of these small tribal groups.
My concern for this region (map) is the recent building of 14 bridges/dams across the Mekong River. This will open up these rural areas and disrupt the livelihood of these local villages. Taken from the book, “Last Days of the Mekong” by Brian Eyler: “China’s development policies aim to interconnect the region through high-speed transportation networks and to transform its people into modern urbanized consumers. By 2025 a series of dams will have harnessed the river’s energy, bringing an end to its natural cycles and cutting off food supplies for over half of the basin’s population. Yet there has been little reporting on this monumental change.”* The fiber that took me years to locate and subsequently receive directly from the port city of Luang Prabang is now made more difficult to source in that the Chinese have constructed a major port in that area. This will draw people living in remote areas into an urban environment which risks the loss of their cultural identity.
By using this material in my sculptural work, my intention is to spread awareness of these unique fiber products and their limitless possibilities as a new art medium. By providing a market, we can help to preserve the unique culture of an indigenous population.
*Eyler, Brian. “Last Days of the Mekong.” Last Days of the Mekong, Zed Books, Limited, 2019.