Steff Rocknak

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Artist Statement:

I'm just making these things; it's an impulse, a drive. I can run away from it -- this urge to make wooden people -- repress it, suppress it, and like any well-meaning philosopher, undress it, but there it is, always. In my face. But if I don't let my work have a full-on conversation with me, with me losing, then my figures would inevitably seem stale; they'd be nothing but technical ornamentation. But that doesn't mean that I don't end up regretting my weird and maybe off-putting surrender to this impulse. So always, when I start a new piece, I rage into it with new ideas of how to control the wood, how to manipulate it, how to thoroughly seduce it. But by the end, or even by the middle of the process, I know that I've lost again. On purpose, I think; this is the good kind of surrender.

I have taken a lot of drawing and painting classes, but I am self-taught in regard to sculpture. I have never had a living instructor, because I've spent a lot of time looking at the medieval wood sculpture that still infests most of Europe's churches and museums. And I love most of Donatello's work; his figures are so perfectly sad. Genuine I think: that boy surrendered with monumental abandon.

"Seeing a Jewel Hang in Ghastly Nights"
Curly Maple, 18"x 20" x 14" (2004)

"Seeing a Jewel Hang in Ghastly Nights" (detail)

"Something to do with being terrified; a day spent in front of the mirror"
Hard Maple; 20" tall (2003)

"Laughing Man"
Basswood, 10" tall (1995)

"The Academic"
Limewood, 12" x 5" (2000)

"The Philosopher"
Limewood, 12" tall (2003)

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