The raised eyebrows and slightly incredulous looks I receive when I profess my deep and abiding love for stone are perhaps understandable given the tenuous and often fleeting exposure most people seem to have with this most remarkable of materials particularly, and perhaps especially, here in the United States.
In fact I do have to repeatedly remind myself that aside from an odd glance at the stuff whizzing past their windows as they speed along the highway many people generally give precious little thought to stone. There is of course the smoothly honed veneer, or ‘thin stone’, that clads the walls of the various office buildings, dental practices, upmarket restaurants and the like that serve to smoothly facilitate a seamless transition from one urban environment to the next. But in general, given its assigned role, it hardly commands a second look as people go about their busy lives. I’d even go as far as to say that a great many of the public stone sculptures adorning our cities never actually give cause to inspire curiosity or interest in their structural material given the smooth and often highly polished surfaces they reflect to passersby.
But for me stone conjures a dramatically different picture. As a sculptor I see stone in numerous capacities, from rough block sitting in my yard to finished sculpture, and along the way I have a front row, up-close-and-personal glimpse into a world that encapsulates many millions of years – hundreds of millions – offering a graphic anthology of life on our planet by revealing not only the geological past but in many cases an anthropological peek all the way back to the very origins of life on Earth.
Much is made of the great dinosaur bones found strewn around various parts of the globe, and for good reason – they are truly amazing. But hidden within the deep recesses of many a humble limestone block destined for a mundane fate than the counterparts in museums and parks and private collection there often lays an equally impressive display of fossilized bones albeit on a far less grandiose scale. In comparison I suppose they could be dismissed as inconsequential but to my eye they are quite magnificent and equally interesting.
You see, the nature of my work requires that I look at the stone I am working with a scrutiny and intensity that brings these micro fossil beds into full view, and the story they tell is every bit as fascinating as that of their massive counterparts in the museums and national parks. Well, to me at least. For quite often I find myself staring at a cluster of these prehistoric bones just moments prior to chiseling, spinning, cutting or otherwise blasting them apart – it pains me, but I am a sculptor after all, and stone is my chosen medium.
So next time you come across a piece of stone why not take a closer look and catch a glimpse into the secret life of stone for yourself?