Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finished Nature Goddess Sculpture

 In each of the places I've lived in North America I've encountered nature spirits. Inside the mysterious trees and brush one thing can often look like another at first glance. Have you ever walked in the woods and mistaken a log for an animal or caught unexplained movement out the corner of your eye? Some say that the cautious creatures of magic in the woods disguise themselves to avoid capture. Who can say if they are really there or not? I wanted this recent sculpture to have that ephemeral feeling of both natural and supernatural that makes one take a second look in curiosity. If it has a meaning greater than that then we'll ponder on it together.
close-up of "Hamadryad" by Tree Pruitt
In a previous blog entry I shared an assemblage statue I'd begun titled at the time as, Nature Goddess Sculpture, well she's finished now and enjoying a spot on a curio shelf. From the base of the marble stone to the painted tip of the highest feather she stands thirteen inches tall. Click the link to see pictures in the old post of how this piece began. She has become a North American hamadryad, with her head-dress of native bird feathers; red cardinal, yellow finch, and black raven are represented in her crown.

Wikipedia informs us that hamadryads, "are Greek mythological beings that live in trees. They are a particular type of dryad, which in turn are a particular type of nymph. Hamadryads are born bonded to a particular tree. Some believe that hamadryads are the actual tree, while normal dryads are simply the entities, or spirits, of the trees. If the tree died, the hamadryad associated with it died as well. For that reason, dryads and the gods punished any mortals who harmed trees."

"Hamadryad", sculpture by Tree Pruitt

My Hamadryad statue could be understood by some to be an unhealthy tree because of the plethora of bracket tree fungus she wears up her trunk, but I don't think of this fungus as a death symbol. Also known as Artist's Conk, this particular species is Ganoderma lucidum, which is a type of fungus I've personally observed on living trees. This species is a hard textured annual with a shiny red -brown top surface when dormant. The underside of this "Artist's Conk" yields a mat surface like a dusting that darkens when touched or scrapped. Marks will become permanent, allowing artists to express creative images on the surface. I've enjoyed watching this species shape itself to the contours of tree trunks over the years, as if poured into place, until it becomes a very firm part of the tree; attempting to remove them is quite difficult and harmful to a living tree. Overall, it may be harming the ash and locust trees I've observed it growing upon, but they've thrived for well over forty years so far, with the fungus growing only in the low shadows.
This sculpture is considered by myself as an "assemblage". An assemblage is simply taking parts already made and putting them together to make something else. It certainly has been an assemblage of inspirations! Here, though the surface is carved and formed similar to a traditional sculpture, the body is made of different parts. A pine wood dowel rod runs upwards, and this isn't just a support structure because I've left a portion visible as torso. The foundation is a base of marble chunk. The clay is attached to this base making it a permanent part of the piece.

I was nearly sad when this assemblage sculpture was finished. I had great fun working on this piece. Paperclay as a medium has proven to be very versatile when mixing into my 3-D artwork. I enjoy the final results of this project, and I hope you've enjoyed it too!

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*Original art images ©Tree Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to ANY use.

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