‘Obsession’ show write-up
Nice write-up by Teri Sund about the ‘Obsession’ show:
Steve Eichenberger refers to himself as ‘sculptor,’ yet that term seems limited in describing his artistic accomplishments. Perhaps the titles builder, engineer, architect and alchemist all contribute to the understanding of what is involved in the creation of each work of art. For Eichenberger, who works primarily in clay, the finished piece is the end result of a long developed process of “how to.” His obsession lies within the challenge to do what appears to be the impossible. While his imagery is strong, direct and uniquely profound, for Eichenberger it is not the crux of his drive and/or passion as an artist. His obsession lies in deciphering what needs to be developed to achieve the monumental sculpture he is known for.
That being said, Eichenberger’s imagery cannot be taken lightly. When discussing his work, he states, “Sculpture is my attempt to combine desirable and/or necessary attributes for navigating our post–911 world into symbolic form. It’s a messy business trying to decide what’s ‘right’! For example, gentleness sounds good, but too much of it and tyrants will rule. Heroism sounds good, but what if the saved aren’t worthy of the hero’s sacrifice?” These are considerations of Eichenberger’s as he utilizes the three dimensional realm to convey the complex question of what it means to be human. He incorporates such things as massive musculature, impossible balance, direct meaningful gaze, the tension of posture, animal analogy, as well as scale to reflect the delicate battle of balance within mankind, as an individual or a society. “I don’t mind looking strange to others as I struggle to concoct the optimum balance of attributes to ethically deal with today’s out-of-balance world. The privilege of being alive is so enormous that I don’t mind putting enormous effort into appreciating it, observing it, and reflecting on it…and I use sculpture to do so.”
And here’s the statement I wrote for the ‘Obsession’ show:
A person who is obsessed may well not consider themselves to be. This has been the case for me. I’ve simply been going along with what appeared in my sketchbook, trying to stay out of the way. And rabbit ears kept showing up. On everything.
The obsession’s first project was the physical challenge of keeping tall ears from falling down in the wet clay stage. I propped and skewered and accepted whatever motley shapes I could get to stand up. The familiar inner response of “that’s cool, but you can do better” compelled me to keep trying again, and again, to form the perfect pair of hare’s ears. By “perfect” I don’t mean anatomically correct, but rather a vivid, insistent inner vision I was compelled to replicate in reality.
I was/am mesmerized by the long slow curves, the tapering of the thickness of the clay, the ear shape’s inherent structural integrity, the volume enclosed, the interaction of negative space between the ears, the flow of line from nose to eartip.
Dozens of iterations later, after developing better armatures and refining sculpting techniques, I have come much closer to matching that inner ideal of form/shape…and the obsession is vindicated as I draw my fingers along fired curves.
Just as romance can be diminished by over-analyzing, an obsession can dry up when exposed to light and air by rational critique. Is it even possible to purposely generate an obsession? wouldn’t it then be a “pursuit”? I experience strong right and left brain influences simultaneously. Too often this means my left brain heckles the right brain into submission. So I value a good obsession once in awhile. The trick is to look the other way and let it play out.