Artist statement

Published by Catherine Toulsaly

In progress
In progress

In progress

Art Therapy is about looking inside a stone for the mystery of one's own interior life

In progress
In progress

In progress

Sculpture can not be taught by books or by spoken words. It must be experienced by the artist. The hands must be trained by practice; the mind by constant acquisition of knowledge and the heart by its undefeated faith and desire to overcome all obstacles. For sculpture is a thorny road beset by barriers, defeats and disappointments.

Direct carving has been my “ordinary habit” in the words of Ann Cvetkovich, “a way to build the spiritual warrior self” necessary to overcome depression and go on with my daily life. It is a spiritual journey, a natural process that brings balance to my mind and body. T. S. Eliott writes in his article on Tradition and the individual talent that

 

the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material.

I can't say whether Eliott is correct. What I know is that I haven't separated in me the person who suffers and the mind which creates. My own subjective taste brings me closer to Venus of Willendorf with rounded buttocks and breasts than to the exquisitely shaved Michelangelo's David. So what is a perfect art? Female figures are more fascinating to me from the beautifully carved belly of Venus de Milo to the poetic movement of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Closer to us, 20th-Century artists such as Brancusi, Giacometti, and Modigliani are guiding my own artistic quest.

Four views (a self, a being, a living soul, a person based on Edward Conze's translation of the Diamond Sutra)

Four views (a self, a being, a living soul, a person based on Edward Conze's translation of the Diamond Sutra)

I found a small reproduction of the Venus of Willendorf in a Goodwill store one day. Since I mentioned my fascination for the figure, no surprise here, I jumped on it. “What do you think about the Venus of Willendorf ?” I asked. “ Do you like it or do you think it is grotesque?”. “Both”, said the person I was addressing myself to. “So why is it that I think it is beautiful?” I asked. Without a word, my interlocutor with a slight pouting face simply rolled his eyes.

Venus of prehistoric proportions

Venus of prehistoric proportions

 

Although most may prefer a more classical form of art, I enjoy Venus of Willendorf for what she represents: an archetypical female figure. The picture above shows a small installation made as a tribute to her. In my work as a writer and an artist, I like to think of the beginning of time, of the whys and hows, and give credit to thinkers and artists who preceded us.

Picture taken of a piece called Bodhisattva and myself

Picture taken of a piece called Bodhisattva and myself

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