Thursday, February 22, 2007

Artist Profile: Roderick C. Wilson Artist Profile: Roderick C. Wilson

From his "Artist Statement" for his current show "Wounds" in the Artisans Market gallery at historic Hubbard Hall, 25 East Main Street (until March 1st), Sculptor Rod Wilson writes:

“It is a process of surrender. I have an idea that leads me in, yet I cannot force myself onto or into the wood. Only when I yield and let go, as the wood yields to the chisel, can connection and collaboration emerge. I need simply to pay attention and abandon fear and hesitation.”

What makes Wilson’s art important, even transcendent, is his awareness and connection to our natural heritage and his willingness to let its life cycle unfold and bring its presence to our own. Here is a heritage and a history we pass by everyday and often take for granted even as it embodies our past, nourishes our present, and now, thanks to Wilson, helps transform our future.

“When those great old maples, which line our streets and roads, die they are brought down by the town or county crews and let to rot. The wood is gnarled and half decayed, stained dark, unpredictable and potentially laden with foreign material: steel, glass, rock, concrete. No mill with cut them.”

For Wilson, these trees and that history holds for him a devotion and curiosity that makes taking the risk to reveal their mysteries ultimately necessary.

“…I love them, as I love the living trees. I crave them. One of the greatest pleasures is to open one of these huge trunks and witness the staggering beauty of a tree’s interior life, revealed for the first time, slab after slab.”

The risks do not end for Wilson after the saw is shut down and the wood is transported to a barn behind his shop. Before he can begin his sculptures, he must let time once again, take it's course and wait for the moisture trapped inside the trees cells to equalize with the moisture in the air.

This process known as “seasoning” can take years to complete and be very tenuous, for inherent in the nature of the swirling grain and spalted surfaces the wood can cup, crack, or twist or become too punky as it dries leaving it very difficult to work.

“I too have a history of wounds and rot, scrapes and broken limbs, as well as growth and flourishing. Where these individual histories, the trees – and – mine meet is where the sculpture arises. This is the conversation. What does the wood have to say, and how do I respond? It is also a conversation with this place where I live. By this process I become native.”

Wilson’s work reflects our most human of traits, as well, the struggle the artist endures to shape meaning from that which is often discarded out of distraction or fear; those very places that hold some of the best keys for our redemption. His work mirrors that which is all too often hidden inside us, our own true nature.

“And so as I carve the wood, it carves me. I am lost. Which is the carver, which is the carved? This dissolution of self is the urge toward “God.” Ultimately these sculptures are about a search for beauty, truth, love and healing.”

Here is a sampling of work from his current show, "Wounds", at the Artisans Market Gallery that will be up until March 1, 2007. Be sure to check it out!

"One of the clearest lessons I have learned from the trees is that the wound is where the grain swirls most dynamically, the wound that is the most beautiful place. And if the wound is the very location of beauty, so too it is the place of healing."

To contact the artist, Roderick Wilson, email him at


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