AT THE FOOT OF THE BLUE MOUNTAIN
The artists’ residence called the Blue Mountain Centre is an inspiring place, situated north-west of New York in the very heart of the Adirondack State Park. For most of the year this is a cold, inaccessible and tough land. In the mid-summer (there are only two seasons in this area) the climate becomes milder and the region seduces us with its beauty. And it has been this way ever since we can remember.
At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries the warriors of the Iroquois, Algonquin and Huron Indian tribes were the first to attempt settlements in this region and take advantage of its abundant game. Yet, they were never able to conquer this region entirely. In winter the temperatures drop to -400C and this served as a reminder that only nature is the sole and sovereign master of this land. Therefore they had to move to milder and warmer areas in the valleys of the Mohawk and St. Lawrence Rivers. The pioneer who confronted the difficulties of living on this land and whose life far exceeded the confines of purely survival endeavours such as hunting, fishing and shepherding, was Edward Zane Carroll Judson, more commonly known under the pen name of Ned Buntline, the author of over 100 books and a poem depicting the beauty of this land.
Having developed a much too eager liking for being a father and a family man, he survived in this region for six years, built a house there, and blended his life with the central part of the Adirondack Park.
40 years after his leaving, the neighbourhood of his house grew wild again, and only few farmers settled there.
On Wilhelm West Durant’s initiative, a planned settlement of the region began at the end of the 19th century. A railway line and a water transportation system were set up. A golf course, with far-reaching sport plans, was built on part of the farm-land around Buntline’s house, and only the bankruptcy of Durant put an end to the great plans of introducing civilisation onto this land.
The new means of travelling and communications with New York made this area so attractive that the buildings together with the surrounding terrain were sold to a group of New Yorkers as summer houses for their families and friends. Soon the renting and selling of these houses became very common.
Until recently, the house called the Centre’s main building was owned by Harold Hochschild – a businessman from New York, son of one of the main purchasers. He decided that after his death (1981) the property would be donated to artists as their colony and conference centre. Since that time the property has been owned by artists.
In summer the artists blend with this untamed land and derive their creative powers from this inexhaustible source of creative ideas and inspiration.
Presently the Blue Mountain Arts Centre is managed by the Board of Artists consisting of the following persons: Harriet Barlow, Sheila Kinney, Ben Strader, Cali Baooks, Lizzic Kirkham and Jamie Nile. They watch over the qualification process and the organisation of visits for selected artists.
This year’s artistic session was initiated by a group consisting of: Katherine Arnoldi, Dan Connell, Royston Coppenger, Jonathan Gillman, Nubar Hovsepian, David Petersen, Joe Louis, Joanna Piucci, Ben Schrank, Martin Steingesser (writers) and: Rosalyn Bodycomb, Juliette Majot, Mirosław Rydzak, Anna Maria Schuleit, William Stahl (visual artists).
Since my artistic programme was accepted by the board for applications I could stay and create in this residence for almost a month this summer. During this time I analysed two forces which stimulate man to activity and an artist to creative work.
I sculpted both of these forces and the effect of their action. In this way, the cycle of three sculptures, linked thematically, was created: “Seduction”, “Imagination” – both in birch wood, and “Fruit” – in American spruce wood.
In their appearance, the species of the wood I used resemble the species growing in Poland. However, the climatic conditions (high humidity in summer and severe winters) explain the differences in the internal structure of the wood. I found out that their bark is strictly joined with the wood and that the hardness and the moisture content of the tree trunk are helpful in artistic processing.
The sculptures “Seduction” and “Imagination” are linked by one common feature – both refer to apparent (seeming) values which determine man’s actions, just like a prism directs the ray of light.
“Seduction” – is a symbol of attractive things and matters, sometimes being sneaky and illusory. A beautiful and interesting appearance appeals to us and therefore we are attracted by beautiful women, carefree life, fame, power, money – sometimes at the cost of selling ourselves or betraying our own personality. In most cases such values as illusion of beauty, good, and dreams come true, are superficial. With time, these values fade, lose their flavour, and as a result, produce the venom of the snake entangled in the Tree of Knowledge…
Yet, temptations constitute an impulse for “Imagination”. As a reaction to a temptation, a new illusory image is created in our consciousness, acting as a balance to the perceived exterior. However, the image, as the external side of our “EGO”, expresses the whole truth about our soul. And it is the imagination – as the filter for perceived temptations – that has the befouling or purifying force.
Evil – feeds on evil, distorting what is beautiful and pure, and is the destruction and devastation…
Good – feeds on good. It does not know evil, and can, in the imagination, purify even ignoble temptations with its power… And this is what my sculpture represents. It refers to simple, lofty, and soaring images. It is the transformation of “Seduction” and its purification.
“Fruit” – the third piece in the cycle, is the result of action, whose impulse lies in temptations and imaginations.
In the biological sense, a fruit is the purpose of existence, the final product, the best part of a plant, the best part of ourselves……
A good fruit comes from a good tree… The fruit of our actions also speaks for ourselves and constitutes the crowning achievement of our existence.
However, a fruit is marked with the stamp of death and the crown of resurrection. A fruit must die to yield a crop. Therefore, it signifies the martyrdom, the suffering and the death of Christ – the Most Perfect Fruit – crowned and rising in his resurrection towards the infinity of the Universe.
After the exhibition of sculpture and drawing at the Boat House, my works of art blended with the beautiful environment of the Adirondack Park. They face the Blue Mountain Lake, looking out into the depths of its waters and the shimmer of the Blue Mountain Falls.
In my works of the last years I have undertaken the form-block-material-color problem.
I had chosen these elements from the midst of sculpture technique in order to attain the law of creative order.
I have started to build more clearly, decidedly fill the block and readably designate the form, complete the facture of sculpture by color. I am looking for various variants of solving the theme problems in context of geometrical forms, shapes and color compositions.
I try to solve and use the secret of directions tenses, moving changes and its stop in the space of time.
I am interested in changing of space, elements, emotions (in extensive expression range, from despair, insanity, suffering to joy and happiness) and expressing the metaphysical essence (the secret of life and death, universe and ending of being) by sculptural means. In form shaping I use decomposition, dividing into many irregular plans and blocks, which are actually irrelevant to the model.
The faces of sculptured heads express this in repeated scarves and cuts, that are shouting from suffering or characterological features. Then strokes of that kind are penetrating the other figural compositions, torsos, nude studies and others.
My interest and inspiration is folk art of various times and nations which gives spiritual concentration of intellect. I try to use its sublimated particles in my works. I found there saving of expressions, often mildness of contour and colour puts severity and even rigorous aggression, assists geometry of form and facture activity.
Form. block. material, color are the main features than I would like to make the dominance of space, filling immaterial sphere of showing life.