The sculpture, Shattered, didn’t start out as a particularly profound piece of art, but it took one of my most painful moments as an artist to turn it into a signature piece. More of that story here.
I have participated in the Southern Hands Artists Studio Tour (SHAST) for several years. This year, a group of four friends walked into the studio. They had made other plans for the weekend, but decided to come to the tour and visit some of the studios in the area. They listened intently to each story I shared, adding their own experiences and observations.
A young woman in the group showed a particular interest when I started talking about the Shattered figure. I showed her the photo of the fractured pieces I found when I opened the kiln. Then, I brought out the sculpture I had recreated by painstakingly reassembling the scattered pieces. When she saw the figure, she burst into tears. She could see her own reflection in the girl, in the cracks and “scars” that remained.
The woman asked if she could purchase the sculpture. I politely replied that I had decided not to sell it. The figure had become a signature piece in the theme of restoration and hope which flows through so much of what I do as an artist. She understood, and thanked me again and again for sharing the story of restoration and beauty.
After the group left, I began to think about the piece, and my identity as an artist. Was I was forgetting why I had created it in the first place, and Who it was that spoke though my creative process to touch the world around me? Did I own that “signature” piece of art, or did it own me? I decided, if I could somehow get in touch with this woman, I would let Shattered become a part of her personal story.
We had put out a sign-in sheet for visitors to leave their names and email addresses, in case they were interested in lessons or wanted further information. I looked at the sheet and recognized her unusual name. I quickly sent an email to the address she had left, telling her what I had decided and why. She immediately responded that she was thrilled! We decided on a fair price, and arranged a time when she could come to the studio to pick it up.
I was happy making the sale of this sculpture, but it still felt a lot like letting one of my children go. However, I was confident that she was going to be in a place where she would continue to be a voice of hope and beauty.
When the young woman come with her friend to the studio, she began to open up and share with me a little more of her story of deep physical, emotional, and spiritual scars. She told me some of the specifics why she felt this figure was such a perfect reflection of what she had endured, and more importantly, the person she had become through that journey of pain and restoration. I was beyond words as I listened, and as I saw her tears of pain, sorrow, brokenness, transformed into hope, forgiveness, strength, and restoration.
Her statement as she was leaving: “I will put this figure on my table where people will see it. This is now how I will be able to tell my story to others.”