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“I want to be a biologist when I grow up. I want to live in Africa and study the animals,” I wrote in third grade, on a small piece of green construction paper. I still have it. The penmanship isn’t bad, considering I used a crayon.
I never became a biologist. But I did live in Africa for eight months, back in 1990. The animals are amazing; so is the scenery. But the African people are truly unforgettable. The poorer they are, the more resourceful they are. They use found, broken pieces of metal or wood or scrap material to create their tools, their clothes, and their home goods. I often saw children playing with toys they made from scraps of metal or wire. They play soccer with soccer balls made from bundles of cloth. And even the poorest people, who are struggling to survive, still have the need to create art. And again, they use whatever they can find. Many of their carved wooden masks contain rusty old screws or nails, old copper wire, or whatever else the artist could lay his hands on.
I brought back quite a few masks from Africa. I also brought back a love for primitive and modern African art. I’m fascinated now by people’s need to create art from whatever materials are available to them. And I have this need now.
About four years ago I began creating sculptures using parts from antique clocks, sewing machines, typewriters, and adding machines. I also started work on some unique mosaics with glass, stone, and marble. Looking back, I think it was inevitable that my love for African art and masks would find it’s way into my own art and lead to sculptures and mosaics using scrap metal, broken glass and stone, old wood, and found objects. Even these discarded pieces can still make beautiful objects. Lasting objects that could be from the past or future, old or new.