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October 22, 2010

 


The African Museum in Lyon, one of the city’s oldest museums, was founded in 1856.

It is also in my neighborhood. So I walk over there every so often on a weekday when it won’t be too crowded. I sometimes sketch, other times take photos. Enjoy the quiet. There are lots of museums in Lyon, but this is one of my two favorites because it features sculpture almost exclusively. I say sculpture, but many of the objects were functional objects used in everyday life. The others had a ritual or religious use and so were most certainly created for special occasions.

As I write this I realize that I don’t know exactly what the objects I photographed were used for. I was taken by them for their small size, sinuous shapes and subject matter: animals.

These are food for my creative process. It feeds my hunger for objects that are well-crafted, beautiful, and infused with meaning. Even if I don’t know the meaning or the purpose of the object. You can feel that significance emanating from each piece. It was created by expert hands, the hands of a person who cared about his materials and process. It was used by people of the same culture, who saw and touched it everyday or perhaps only once a year, who realized the value of it.

Animal sculptures, such as these tiny miniature bronzes are especially amazing as the artist suffused each with an individuality, a personality despite the small scale.

As I create my next piece weeks (or longer) after my visit, it may display a curve to the tail reminiscent of that of the tiny fish sculpture, or I may use a fabric whose texture reminds me of the texture of the bronze sculpture created by an expert artisan. These tiny bits of inspiration, sometimes forgotten for a long time, returned to, mixed with others, find their way into my pieces after they’ve become internalized or assimilated, and come together to create a unique look and feel.

 

Where does your inspiration come from?

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