Steve Loar (USA) sycamore and other woods scultural form 21x32cm. Signed
My several meetings with Ray were at conferences. He was exactly what I’d always heard about him – warm, gregarious, and genuine. For one of my magazine writing projects, I needed some input from several well-known practitioners. Ray, and Richard Raffan, have always been my choices to exemplify the beautifully simple and utilitarian vein of contemporary woodturning. I posted my letter (before the internet…) with bated breath and received a very kind reply answering all that I needed to know to make my observations for the article.
Beginning in 1991, I was the first American wood artist to initiate an artistic practice that drew upon cast-off parts and shards from other woodturning artists – like this project. To this day, I specialize in incorporating components from other artists into my narrative sculptures. My goal in collaboration is to always honor the marks of the maker and then extend them in some fashion that they would not have. At its best, my work is a seamless mingling of the two (or three, or four…) of us. What an engrossing challenge this one was! Having Ray’s spirit with me in the studio as I worked was an added joy.
My Tribute Collaboration was intended to be a variation on my “Airflow” sculpture of a year ago. There, I had cut open a distorted, cracked, rejected pot from Christian Burchard to create the sense of an abstracted bird landing. Christian’s work is always quite thin with an interior that gives evidence of masterful control. Ray’s pot was of an unknown, terribly dense wood with a rough interior. But, more to the point of my challenge, it was quite a bit smaller than Airflow. This pot had been made from a 16.5 cm diameter crosscut section of an 18-year-old tree with its pith in the exact center. It also had an unexpected wall thickness that swelled to a thickness that left me astounded that it had not exploded as it dried – yet there was not the slightest crack in the entire piece.
This wall thickness and its small size stymied my Airflow concept. So, trusting a hunch, I cut the piece in half. In wanting to evoke a sense of movement, new visual research into flying and landing poses of birds was needed to instigate possible new relationships. I was also committed to creating a composition made entirely of turned components; components that had been transformed into narrative elements rather than being seen as “parts of bowls”. A by-product of my collaborative investigations with reject bowls from the Holland Bowl Mill (Michigan/USA) provided the basis for the bird’s simplified body, as well as, a dramatic landscape reference as an unconventional base. The caps of spheres provided the necessary shoulder junctions between the body and wings.
“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life,
by artificial means, and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later,
when a stranger looks at it, it moves again, since it is life.”
The Ray Key Collaboration Auctionn