Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gathering Influences

I make discoveries through the process of making. The crab claw, for example, has been an important image in my work for some time but recently it took on significant meaning. The first crab claw I ever made was the result of an 'all you can eat' dinner at a Chinese Buffet. The hot buttery crab claw in my hand demanded that it be clay. I wrapped the thing up in my napkin, brought it home and made one the next day. Over the past few years, I've made several sculptures and attached the crab claw in various ways with no special significance attached.

In his book The Emperor of all Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee says, "It was in the time of Hippocrates, around 400BC that a word for cancer first appeared in the medical literature: karkinos, from the Greek word for crab. The tumor, with its clutch of swollen blood vessels around it, reminded Hippocrates of a crab dug in the sand with its legs spread in a circle. The image was peculiar (few cancers truly resemble crabs), but also vivid."

After reading this I quickly made the connection to the Zodiac sign of Cancer and the image of the crab. As a result the crab claw no longer functions as "decoration", but is an important conceptual component to my work. Also, my dad recently died from skin cancer so I was primed for this new information. If you scroll down, you can see the different uses of the crab claw. The hare with the crab claw piercing the skin (below) is the most recent.

The frog holds no special meaning at this point. Sure there are words and snippets of phrases that emerge in my thinking but nothing substantial at this point. This is the first one made and like the crab, I expect it to take on meaning as my  hands work through ideas.

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