my family full size In back of my family home where I grew up was The Clay Pond, which was in the middle of Great Swamp, off limits to young boys in search of adventure. “If you go in there you may never find your way out,” I was told. The Clay Pond was a small hole, about 8 feet in diameter. If we dug deep enough with our hands through layers of mud and muck, our arms extending all the way so that the muddy water splashed our cheeks, we reached the mine of blue clay. I would scoop out a handful of the treasure, sit for magical hours on the rock away from snakes and snapping turtles and make objects of wonder, leaving them in the sun to dry and bake.

Many years later I took a sculpture course in high school and I have never been away from sculpture since that time. During my seminary years, I also studied sculpture in New York City. While a chaplain at Cornell for many years, I continued as a sculptor on the side. In 1962 I worked in India for two years, teaching at the Madras Christian College and working with students in the villages. There I first saw and was deeply moved by the shapes and expressions of hunger. For a decade I worked on themes of hunger in my sculpture. I found beauty, at times grotesque dignity, in body forms that were the antithesis of the forms which the Greeks and others have bequeathed to us.

Other themes that are important in my life find expression in my sculpture. In these sculptures I find the voiceless calling out, the lonely seeking welcome, the oppressed demanding justice, and the outcast and beaten living by enduring another night and another day. And then there are those who sing and embrace, and those who dance and dance and dance.

While I am interested in these themes, I am a sculptor, fascinated by the three dimensional interplay of line, mass, shape and space. I may start with an idea that I want to develop but I quickly move into the challenge of how to create a sculpture that comes alive for me. A graceful line, an unusual balance, a twist or tilt of the mass that reaches towards some unexpected resolution are aspects of my sculpture on which I carefully work. I can sense the moment in each finished sculpture when suddenly a mere lump of sticky dirt comes to life. Suddenly there is dialogue. Suddenly I listen and look and follow. Suddenly I am humbled by what I am being shown and where I am being led. Alas, my studio shelves are crowded with wonderful ideas that are absolutely dead as sculptures. Dead now, but always awaiting the miraculous transformation into life. I cannot fathom why it is that I seem unable to breathe life into these lifeless shapes. Somehow we are simply not yet ready for each other. Such is life and the challenge of it all.

My hands search the great questions of the spirit, and lead me “by another way” in the direction of the unknown, the not yet, and the mysterious. There are many questions that are stimulated by my creating: What does the Creator have to do with our creativity? What is the relation between the deep creature passions of our senses and the sacred? Does our creativity make any difference to ourselves, to others, or to God? How does creativity affect the healing process of ourselves, of others and the world? Restless hands and a soft hunk of clay call out to each other from across the abyss for answers in visual form to those questions that are often too deep for words. When I discover in chiseled walnut or textured bronze a shape, a space, a mass or a texture that lives for me, answers to the great questions of the spirit seem to be revealed for a moment and it feels as if my cup overflows.

The bronze sculptures were cast using the lost wax process. The ancient process requires many steps and is very labor intensive. Each piece moves from the clay or plasticene with which I work, though the mold and wax phases to the pouring of the molten bronze, and the painstaking grinding and finishing of the bronze to the final application of the patina. I retain the mold of the original bronzes so I am able to reproduce additional sculptures upon request.

In a sense I am still beside the Clay Pond, in the middle of the Great Swamp. I never did find my way out. I still search through the bog of my existence and follow the lead of my hands towards the blue clay of hope and creativity. I am living on the exhilaration of those boyhood times, when the days were sunny, blue clay was within a long arm’s reach and the created object was filled with iconic power and wonder.