Wood is my preferred material. I use a variety of wood ranging from soft to hard depending on the project. The medium of wood, itself, inspires me, as well as the people who commission me to carve totem poles or symbolic or mythological creatures that represent something intimate and personal to them and their families. In all my work, I am intrigued by design and symbolism that emerges naturally from the wood, like a story unfolding on paper.
Definition = a pole or pillar carved and painted with a series of totemic symbols representing family lineage and often mythical or historical incidents and erected by Indian tribes of the northwest coast of North America
The sculpture that started my art career was a totem pole. The wood I use for totem poles, Engelmann Spruce, grows locally in Aspen, CO and grows large. Totem poles account for roughly half of my commissioned work. The majority of them are family crests; each member of the family is represented by a different animal in which they choose. The totem poles I have carved range from 4' high to 32' high. Most totem poles are installed out of doors, but can also be installed in doors.
Maori Moko Sculpture
Definition = Moko (tattoos) were applied to the face and body. In men the moko could cover the whole face. The patterns on each area of the face communicated specific things, such as social standing, and family history.
I became intrigued by the Maori culture after reading a book my friend gave me. I was struck by how similar the totem poles of the Pacific Northwest and the Maori culture of New Zealand were so similar in the way they represented their family linage and hertigage through symbolism.
The facial tatoos, or moko, I find fascinating and I like to carve Maori Heads larger then life. The first two Maori sculptures I carved, I painted in the design to bring the features out. Then discovered that if I use a hardwood, like walnut, the wood speaks for itslef and no paint is necessary.
The Four Dignities
The Four Dignities are part of Shambala Buddhism; the four noble attributes of the peaceful warrior. The Four are represented by four animals. The Garuda from the East symbolizes Spring and its element is air. The Tiger (substited here by Sekhmet) from the South symbolizes Summer and its element is fire. The Dragon, from the West symbolizes Autumn and its element is water. The Snowlion from the North sybolizes Winter and its element is Air.
The Four Dignties was commissioned by the Center for Living Peace in Irving, California.
Carving Monuments came about for clients that want a personal, meaningful sculpture but do not want a traditional totem pole. Monuments still hold symbolic value, however they do not include traditional totemic features. For instance, as in the Water Monument (right image) the design element is Tibetan script, symbolizing water; while the Storlie Totem Pole, also part of the Monument series, represents modern day imagery relevant to Mr. Storlie's life history.
Carving symbolic figures is a departure from totem poles. They are a lot of fun to carve because of the subject matter differs greatly. Gargoyles, Lizards, Dragonflies, Buddhas; I like to try new subject matter that will challenge me creatively and technically.