Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Rocks in the river

I was talking to a whitewater kayaking friend of mine who was expressing regret about his long hiatus from sculpture (he has a degree in sculpture and makes very cool large steel and wood structures). My friendly recommendation was that he should just start making something, anything, regardless of size. The important thing is to just get started by doing something creative, as a way to reconnect with the childhood joy of making something (simply for the sake of making it).

This summer, while skipping the flat rocks of the Kennebec river, I started to show some of the junior counselors how the slate and shale rocks would fracture into thinner stones for skipping. That demonstration lead to speculation about using harder rocks to do the job, which in turn lead to discussion about how well one rock would cut into another. It was a demonstration of the essential human tendency of simply play evolving into experimentation through creativity.

One of the junior counselors, noticing how well he could shape the stones, declared that he was going to make an arrow head. Recognizing the awesome possibility to turn a speculative text book history lesson from school into an actual connection with ancient humanity, I (as well as the other junior counselors) agreed to each make an arrow shaped rock, using only tools found on that small beach.

As youthful enthusiasm gave way to peer pressure for playing frisbee, the junior counselors finished their arrow heads and joined the rest of their group on the adjoining field. I could hear them explaining the playing/experimenting with rock that they were enjoying while they warmed up for a game of Ultimate. I picked up my stones to move within sight of the group, but continued to work. Since I had finished an arrow shape, I decided to draw with it. Then, I decided to draw ON it, with the first decoration that naturally occurred; a line in the middle. The next rock got a decoration that progressed from the first. It had the most common two-line decoration in human history, intersecting lines.

I wonder how many works of art are made with stone.
How many have intersecting lines?
How many started as play, and continued through experiment? (and is there a difference?)

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