A PRESENCE IN WOOD Wood Sculpture by Miriam Carpenter • Cleaver Magazine
A PRESENCE IN WOOD Wood Sculpture by Miriam Carpenter Throughout my life I have sought the companionship of trees and have developed an ever deepening reverence for them. Trees are intelligent, resilient, majestic and adaptable. When a tree has reached the end of its life, the shadow of what once was presents another gift in the form of a satiny, warm, sensual material. Each piece of wood has its own story—reflections of moments specific to place and time within the inherent architecture of a species. Each tree has its own experience and characteristics uniquely formed by its geographical location, the effects of the seasons, wind, rain and what grew beside it. The history of each year is physically recorded in each ring slowly reacting to external and internal stresses after it has died and been cut into lumber. Reading the story in the grain is just as exciting to me as transforming it into an artifact. The more time I spend with each piece of wood, the deeper my understanding grows of its unique characteristics. With respect for its capacity and understanding of its potential, I can be more thoughtful in how I bring the piece to completion. Everything that I create is an experiment. Whether the approach is multi-axis split turning, bending or carving by hand, it is always an exploration of unique material potential. My current passion is fueled by an evolving series of delicately carved wooden feathers. Species with the most porous earlywood, tight growth rings and strong medullary rays provide the type of structure I have found to be most resilient. The dense medullary rays project radially through the rings, offering an ability to shape incredibly think undulating forms that expose the delicate pores. The tight rings expose a dramatic visual texture and a challenge to create sweeping lines through varying densities. There are specific qualities in certain species that will allow me to create something that is fragile yet resilient. My process is of making, of staying present in the moment, of focus and flexibility and is a lesson in non-attachment. As I work, I allow myself to pour out love with such intensity that what I create might become embodied with a life that is viscerally connected to me. I do not believe that hand-made artifacts are simply objects or things; I believe they are imbued with heart and soul. Our energy passes through us and into what we are making. Bliss, anxieties, these things are reflected in what we produce. We exchange matter. When we create a baby, far along in its gestation, its DNA floods the mother’s body. When a baby is born, some of its DNA remains in the mother’s body forever. There is a constant exchange in whatever we create, and being mindful and deliberate about how we do what we do is of utmost importance to how we share our gifts and our lives with everyone and everything around us.