2016 • IN LIVING AND IN DYING
Constructions: wood, Venetian lime plaster, century plants, ink, gouache
The title of this series speaks for itself. These pieces are a cathartic meditation on the transitions we face just by the nature of being. During the course of our lives we are so often faced to accept the inevitable passing of people, places, animals, and things. Underneath the loss and unbearable sadness, these experiences also remind that one day our fate will take it’s place in the stream of transient mysteries. We can wrap our mind with rational acceptance, yet the heart requires so much more.
The Century plants I used for this series were harvested from long walks in the desert. As I held them in my hands to paint, they became my scepter, my magic wand, and axis mundi or earth axis leading to heaven. I learned that Century is the family name for literally 100's of indigenous desert plants that bloom only once in their lifetime. Agave and Yucca are among the most widely known. Towards the end of their lifespan a long stalk capped with white/(yucca) or yellow/(agave) blossom clusters will ascend from the base of the plant. As it reaches maturity the plant and stalk dry out. These plants will produce shoots from their base that will give birth to new plants. Once the seed blossoms dry out, 1000's of seeds will disperse and scatter with the wind and so the life-cycle continues.
It is a poet’s heart that looks to metaphors to explain the things that the eyes can see, but the mind struggles to answer. —mo
Each piece hopes to connect to a still point, while offering a healing meditation on quiet Intelligent simplicity.
This work looks to the stage and the Theater of the Absurd with an eye on humankind’s relationship to love, to nature, and to society. Each piece expresses the literary dynamics of protagonist vs. antagonist. The characters are masked, and androgynous in order to portray a universal anonymity.
They are often portrayed simply by head and by heart. Imagery such as fruits, mirrors, spheres, metal eggs, stones, wish bones, coins and chalets combine to tell a story rich in metaphor. In some ways, it is reminiscent of the surrealistic style of Hieronymus Bosch, 1500. The introduction of the head carvings can be attributed most definitely to the influence of the contemporary artist John Frame. His unrestricted use of refined and detailed precious carvings paved the way to expand on the technical and conceptual potential of mixed media. The result is a person assemblage of fabricated imagery and objects that ultimately pokes fun at the obstacles and predicaments that confront us in passion, relationships and romantic love. —mo, 1998
We shutter like staccato between the brightest stars and the darkest night. I believe that somewhere amidst the disorienting implode and explode of the 20th and 21st Century, there still exists remnants of principal desire. Philosophically, this work embarks on a search for Truth, Nature, Love, Meaning, Aesthetics and God. —mo
The inspiration for this work is the result of sorting through various philosophical standpoints and accepting a place of quiet simplicity amid the transience of all things. —mo
2001 — 2004 • ICONOGRAPHY OF PRINCIPLE DESIRE
In the span of a lifetime, or one hundred-plus years, the course of Nature has been disrupted and fragmented by two World Wars; two Russian revolutions; a Spanish Civil War; The Great Depression; Oppenheimer's bomb; Einstein's theory of relativity; the splitting of the atom; Freud's psychoanalysis; Sartre's Existentialism; the Wright Brother's invention of flight; Henry Ford's automobile; TV and a walk on the moon. (infoplease.com/1900-2000 world history time line)
Add to that, the new millennium's exponential rate of ‘progress’ and experimentation with genetic engineering, cloning, plague epidemics, global warming, threats of terrorism, and the potential for yet another world war. Is it any wonder that the Spirit of humankind is spinning haphazardly off its track? The Existential dialogue continues.
In the rush and forced optimism of each conscious moment I am searching for evidence of God. To be clear, I am not referring to a religious or patriarchal symbol that has caused millions of people to die or suffer under the name of the cross. I am referring to the ‘God’ that Nietzsche exclaimed died at the hand of a reckless world that wallowed in self-inflicted economic, political and social disparity. In other words, what I seek to understand is Divine Intelligence. I'm talking about an idealistic longing for balance, equanimity and peace.
Carl Jung asserts that the idea of the ‘death of God’ and its immediate consequences —the metaphysical void, is surely a psychic fact of our time. (Jung: Man and his Symbols p. 295.) In response, I recite like a last survivor, from a whimsical prose that says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the proving of things not seen.” Book of Hebrew, 11:1. I realize this is the reason I submit to making art. Simply said, I want to put a band-aid on the whole damn thing, affect the pace—slow it down. Confront Existentialism. Pray for peace.
Material and process engage to reveal the tactile, visceral and healing qualities of matter. The action is heart-to-hand and then hand-to-matter. Hegel states, “There is a symmetry between the mind of the artist and the Absolute or what one considers to be the essence or meaning of the world. He asserts that art does not only reveal God it is one of the ways in which God reveals [itself.]” (Hegel’s Lectures, p. xiv)
The body of work titled The Iconography of Desire aspires to embark on a phenomenological journey of reinstating Divine Intelligence as the driving quantum life force that exists in all matter, consciousness and mind. It attempts also, to connect to the original premise of Aesthetic philosophy—that is— seeking Truth in nature and in art. From the vantage point of the new millennium's global uncertainty, I serve up the painting, and the art object as a meditation on the ideology of desire and search for meaning. The creative devices used to arouse this journey are metaphor; narrative; language; the vibration of color; the interaction of form, surface, and texture; the collective unconscious; prana/energy; and prayer. —mo, 2004
1995 — 1998 • Who Do you love?
This series uses intricate brass castings and original oil paintings of masked, androgynous portraits that function as focal points in each piece. Much like in Hesses’s, “Steppenwolf”— this work is a sardonic journey through the subconscious focusing on the abstract concept of romantic ‘love’ as experienced by the individual.
1991 — 1992 • Narrative Constructions
Photographic images are used to express universal states of being. Each image is committed to a metal engraving as a symbolic gesture of protecting the fragile. Each piece contains a vessel that holds the essence of the photo. The constructions become the sanctuary for our most intimate memories, dreams and hopes.
1992 — 1993 • Series: Dynamics of Balance
This series addresses universal themes of existence, transience and loss. It challenges the main premise of Existentialism: "existence precedes essence"; and suggests the opposite: essence precedes existence. In other words, we are the product of our seed. Considering this, the burden of responsibility is shifted to the forces of chance and fate rather than purely choice.
1993 — 1994 • Beyond the Glassless Window
Staircases, windows and ladders invite the viewer to enter rooms and chambers that metaphorically invite an exploration through different states of being. Each piece is meant to arouse abstract notions of opposing yet complementary characteristics such as male/female; earthly/spiritual; unity/isolation. As in poetry, the lyrical aspect of this series allows the viewer to interpret the symbols in a personal way.
“Sometimes reflection on love becomes the ideology of a society; then we find ourselves in the presence of a way of life, an art of living and dying, an ethic, an aesthetic and an etiquette.”
—“The Double Flame”, Octavio Paz.
1999 — 2001 • NIRVITARKA
The word Nirvitarka is borrowed from the Samadhi Pada 1.43, of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Abstractly translated it means: "When the memory or storehouse of modifications of mind is purified, then the mind becomes devoid of its own nature and only the object on which it is contemplating shines forth; this type of concentration is known as Nirvitarka." (1.43 Sutra)
This series weaves the simplicity of Nature into the complexities of the heart and mind in hope of a brief encounter with the Sublime. Raw materials including cement and hydro stone are used to sculpt individual sanctuaries that emulate water-washed stone facades. The rock-hared cement is hand polished and smoothed with pigment and encaustic.
Intimate paintings and photographs depicting snippets of Nature are place within these sanctuaries. Objects such as bronze and silver spheres, cylinders, squares and triangles dangle from handmade chain to complement the philosophical storyline of each piece. The cross, plus other religious symbols are borrowed—not necessarily as an identity to the church, but as emotional emblems of martyrdom, reverence and love. —mo, 2001
SCULPTURE TIMELINE & statements
To view each series please click on image.
2013 — 2015 • EVERY KINGDOM
This work is improvisational—in the spirit of music, born from emotional, spontaneous textures, unconscious and expressive. The pieces are meant to ask more than to explain. As in all of my work, the questions are existential, buried within the frame of rhythmic notation, disoriented architectural symbols such as doorways, windows and stairs, plus figures and aspects of nature. Arising from philosophical and spiritual conversations, my questions have no answers. They are simply poetic renderings that want to touch a sense of meaning, but cannot. There is always too much to take in and so I sculpt and paint in the hope of constructing a map towards discovery to the unanswerable questions, that to some degree confront us all. —mo, 2013
2011 — 2013 • STILL POINT
Still Point represents a state of homeostasis that is often referred to in the healing arts such as Yoga, Reiki, and Cranial Sacral Therapy. In essence, it describes a condition of spaciousness and timelessness that pulses between mortality and immortality. I see it as a place of surrender and acceptance of the things that are greater than one’s self. It is an elusive state of peace and knowingness that rests in the pause between our inhale and our exhale.
In this series, I return to the vessel form as humankind’s signifier. Each piece is created using the potter’s wheel so as to contain the essence of earth’s rotation, plus the energy of balance. At the leather hard stage they are carved and shaped. Terra sigillata (sealed earth) is used for the monochromatic, burnished surface. After firing precious handmade objects are added selectively—sometimes carved from porcelain, polymer clay, or fabricated metal. —mo, 2012