Artist Statement 2008
by Wesley Wofford
The public arena holds a particular interest to me because it reaches everyone and allows viewers to experience art on their own terms. I think the greatest sculpture collections have a variety of styles and mediums as well as subject matter. A well-rounded collection subtly educates the common person about sculpture and creates an interactive timeline of the evolution of sculptural thought. A great figurative piece becomes all the more emotionally powerful when juxtaposed amongst both non-representational and abstract pieces. The experience piece is more satisfying amongst more object-based sculpture. As a result, the viewer is stimulated by the contrast of one style to the next.
The public arena is becoming dominated by extremely large, non-representational pieces and commemorative figurative works. These figurative pieces speak nothing of the human condition, and many the larger works make statements that escape the understanding of the common viewer. My aim is not to debase these pieces; they are a respectable and valid mode of expression. But they should not be the only modes represented.
My current work confronts this trend in two ways:
The first proposes to reinvigorate the figure as a modern mode of expression and address the gravity of living in an industrialized nation. Using a mode of expression that speaks to everyone (not just those familiar with the Brancusi and Duchamp-inspired movements), I aim to translate the experience of what it is to be a human animal in a secular society—exploring themes that are basic and primal as well as emotionally complex. I also aspire to produce sculpture that allows all viewers to relate and interpret it within the context of their own lives.
To create a bridge for the common viewer between the classically inspired figurative bronze and the gigantic steel sculpture is the endeavor of the second path. This sculpture:
– Exists for beauty’s sake and allows the viewer to relate to the larger abstraction of the human condition.
– Is dynamic and passionate but not always physically accurate, producing movement of line, form, light and spatial relations.
– Presents clay as the form in motion, not necessarily the anatomy of the figure.
The ultimate goal of my sculpture is to instantly and emotionally engage a viewer. Most viewers’ initial connection comes through the recognition of a relatable form. Upon closer inspection, they see that the piece is more ambiguous than originally perceived. They notice that the forms aren’t realistic depictions, or discern textures not previously seen. This is indicative of my work. I want to draw viewers to a piece with one perception and then allow them to rediscover it—all the while retaining the initial connection.