"Granite is the most unsympathetic material of sculpture that I know."
1915 - Daniel Chester French (author of Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC)
website - www.chesterwood.org
In the quote above, Mr. French is pleading with the architect to change his specifications from granite to marble on an important commission in New York City (two monumental allegories of Brooklyn and Queens) in 1915.
Mr. French, we feel your pain... request denied.
For similar reasons to the pleadings of Mr. French, contemporary sculptors avoid this unyielding material in favor of bronze or marble.
Many of today's outdoor art projects demand a more durable, low maintenance material such as granite, and art professionals have difficulty finding qualified sculptors who understand the medium. There are few sculptors who have used it successfully in abstract applications and fewer still who can use it figuratively or representationally.
We have discarded remnants of granite, removed from blocks during the rough stages of a figurative project, that bear a striking resemblance to some of today's contemporary granite sculpture. We believe what makes them interesting to the public as sculpture is that they describe "process." The drill marks, the variety of surface textures, bits of polish and unique shapes, informed successfully with concept or context, can produce thought-provoking abstract sculpture. Unfortunately, much of this work is fast becoming cliched and merely describes process on a grand scale. A more apt description of this generation of abstract sculpture could be "extract art."
What we strive to do is to animate the granite, to breathe some life into it. Building a sculpture from the inside out is not a matter of technique. Animation in representational sculpture is the intangible quality that speaks to the viewer, and is the one aspect that can't be adequately taught or described.
We find that working directly with clientele, their unique situations and concerns, provides us with a wealth of diversity in terms of subject matter and creative challenges. For this reason, we do not seek gallery affiliations other than an occasional group exhibit with other sculptors. Our role as sculptor/contractor has rewarded us with many successful collaborations with clients and other art professionals, and we frequently consult other sculptors on their large-scale projects involving granite.
Personal work, as well as the commissioned work, is rooted deeply in the craft of stone carving. Each piece is a further exploration of this craft which has not changed significantly since the Egyptians figured out how to create sculpture from quarried blocks of granite. Uncommissioned work is often constrained by time and financial conditions, but we usually prefer a more portable scale and dense, finely grained granites. Ideally, we try to achieve a synthesis of craft and content and an occasional collision between modernity and tradition.