Stone is a constant. It is the ground we walk on; it is support, and it's hard. I never thought I would have the power or capacity to carve this material. In the past, I felt a certain confinement around my art practice that was based on tools that I could carry with me or techniques I could figure out on my own. This can be somewhat attributed to my nomadic lifestyle but there are other factors as well. I am not the type to rely on others or on a large array of high tech tools when it comes to my creative process, and even utilizing tools that are not my own makes me slightly uneasy. However, the 2018 MARBLE/marble carving symposium was a huge turning point. The community, the stone, and the location all coalesced to help me open up to new ways of creating and living.
I arrived at the gorgeous little mountain town of Marble tucked away in a valley surrounded by towering rocks and set up my tent in the already established tent village settled among the trees. I had been here before but now I was a real part of the goings-on. I was immediately impressed by the number of carving sites and quickly realized how many people were going to be carving alongside me for the week. As I wandered around and set up my space I felt excitement and anticipation as well as trepidation and uncertainty.
The week started off at full blast and never slowed. It was a whirlwind of white dust, chunks of marble, and satisfied grins. We all dove into the tool shed with gusto, even though many of us were first timers, and we drank in every bit of information we were given during workshops. There were carvers of every kind and they all contributed to the immense energy of the place. It was really something to have waves of these personalities crashing ecstatically against me during meal times. There were happy hour gatherings on old stone tables and late night ramblings through the old marble mill site next door. It all coalesced to have me feeling like it was a dream. All 56 residents and over 15 staff felt the magic overflowing by the end.
The stone itself taught me more than I could have imagined as well. It melted under a diamond blade, making it feel like butter, and it guided my chisels across its surface with gentle solidity. It seemed to take pity on my beginner attitude and allowed me to take risks without sacrificing its integrity. I soon found that I was developing a burning flame for this practice of cutting, chiseling, grinding, and shaving such a solid piece of material. The passion and prowess of those around me provided inspiration as well as technical guidance when I felt overwhelmed or lost in my own process. The instructors worked on their own pieces in their spare time and you could often be a witness to their beautiful interactions.
There is something very special about stone carvers. They develop unique relationships to their material and treat each piece as a new friend. I found this kind of environment invigorating and renewing. I drank too much, I danced (but not quite enough), and I fell in love. Now I live with new awareness about the foundations of stone beneath us and the ways we can interact with it creatively. The stones support us but they are vulnerable. They taught me a new way to listen and be patient and to walk away often.