Todji Kurtzman

Contact Information:

Todji Kurtzman Movement Arts
Portland, Oregon


Artist Statement:

In their essence my sculptures are archetypal fertility goddesses and gods in contemporary form. They summon the ancient mystery described by Joseph Campbell as aesthetic arrest through the living object.

Our eyes help us to judge distance by making far away objects look smaller. Just as a skyscraper looks narrower at the top when viewed from the ground, I give my sculptures the illusion of great size in a small scale by applying a signature interpretation of the forced perspective technique. Michelangelo also employed a forced perspective, with the opposite intent, when he made the top of David proportionally bigger.

On the non-visual plane, the exaggerated proportions of my sculpture reflect the non-visual image that the brain "sees" of our bodies when one is lost in inspired or survival movement. At peak moments of concentration, one's body disappears and the appendage of focus becomes all encompassing in the mind's eye.

In science there is a parallel medical concept called the homunculus that addresses the disproportionate amount of brain area that is assigned to different parts of the body, based not on size but on high densities of nerves concentrated in sensitive areas such as the lips, tongue, hands, feet and genitals. These sensitive areas are theorized to be "bigger" in the brain's view of the body.

In the meeting of the spiritual and material planes my sculptures resurrect the timeless form of the ancient "idol", by sourcing the displaced archetypes of goddess power, nature divinity, individual divinity, fertility, sexual positivism, and the balance of yin and yang which are all encompassed by the principle of infinite, simultaneous, harmonized spiritual truths.

An "Enthusiast," as defined by anthropologist Lewis Hyde, is a person who finds spiritual expression through the body. The practitioners of Candomble, Santaria, Vodun, Sufism, indigenous religions and Dionysian temple dancers of ancient Greece, all practice(d) codified poly-rhythms and dances to enter ecstatic states for community and personal transformation. While I was raised culturally removed from this practice, I can look back upon a lifetime pursuit of this expression.

In my work I collaborate with dancers, musicians, and urban shaman; African, Latin, post-modern, modern, capoeira and experimental. I am enamored with Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music and dance. I consider my involvement and exploration of these spiritual dance forms, and their mythologies, as a way to expand the material and metaphysical consciousness of my work.

I sculpt in clay and cast in bronze because I believe the sculpture I create will stand up over time, will translate well to large scale, and the permanence of bronze is an antithesis to our culture of the disposable.

I believe that to avert mutually assured ecological destruction, the calling of our age is to rediscover, retell and thus live into our nature harmonious mythologies. My contribution to this imperative mythological transformation is to express the deep human knowing residing in our instinctual mind, and give contemporary form to the ancient and fundamental human expression of the living object.

Cast bronze, concrete base, 18 x 7 x 6

UNTITLED, Todd Kurtzman © 2005.
Cast bronze, 22 x 23.5 x 8

INCANTATION, Todd Kurtzman © 2004
Cast bronze, 21 x 20 x 7

WENDY'S SHOES, Todd Kurtzman © 1999
Cast bronze, concrete, 14 x 10 x 6

WENDY'S HOOP SKIRT, Todd Kurtzman © 2002
Cast bronze, mirrored glass base with chipped edge, 19 x 13 14.5

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