An individual’s face, hands, hair, gestures and body posture are as identifiable as a name or symbol and usually convey more of the essence of the person. The human form, from the freedom of childhood to distinguished seniority, has always moved me. I strive to capture the emotion, personality, grace, and honor of all my subject matter and have been fortunate to be chosen to sculpt many private and public monuments. These opportunities have granted me the opportunity to meet new and inspiring people.
While I am studying a subject, using photographs, measurements and conversation, I am constantly looking for the hand gesture, the slight wink, the curl at the mouth, the “thing” that makes them unique. If I am able to distinguish and recreate those identifying and unique characteristics, then I have done my job, for it is the person that lived the life that should be seen and remembered. It is the “twinkle in the eye” of Father Kelly; the pride and honor of Fred Flowers, Doby Flowers and Maxwell Courtney; the constantly furrowed brow of Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Litz and the distinctive shape of his head that his son inherited; the tenderness of “Doretha;” the network of support within the officers and families of the Florida Highway Patrol and The Florida Sheriff’s Association; the traditional “baseball player stance” of University of South Alabama Head Baseball Coach Eddie Stanky; Bobby Bowden going for the first down, as he has for years; the smile and chiseled chin of Kevin Hendon that his father remembers of his son at age 18, right before he lost his battle with cystic fibrosis; the joy in the young Wilson boy lost too early; and this year, currently under production, the little boy a mom remembers in a brave soldier killed in Afghanistan. With research, patience, photos and memories, my job is to sculpt “that person” to be uniquely and immediately identifiable and known.
When I am commissioned to create a sculpture of a person whose face and body are or were known over many years, I describe it as looking at the scrapbook of one’ life, from infancy to present day, and choosing just one photo that captures that life. It is a very difficult task, but it is a challenge I eagerly pursue. The unique “things” rarely change over a person’s life, as their energy and essence are always the same.
After long consideration of any and all available information, I choose recurring images to create a conceptual vision and eventually the sculpture. In order to see and know which images are unique and full of information, I must first get to know the person I am supposed to create in clay. Whether I am able to talk with them, or if I need to research and study photographs, there is a significant connection that I must make. That connection and relationship guides the sculpting process, as I must above all honor the person and the image that I am creating.