Anguish, Etc.

In order to graduate I had to hack together one last sculpture for Joe Seipel, the department chairman. I had been working carpentry for about two years. The contractor who hired me got me to build forms for some trapezoidal pier blocks for a house we built. I'd been thinking about angles, and the tapered lines that defined them, so I backed the truck up to the loading dock at sculpture one night and cut up a sheet of OSB plywood on the tailgate. The thing I built was like a ten sided die, constructed in two halves like the geometric version of a plastic easter egg. It was open at each end, and I filled it with cement, the words ANGUISH and ETC. projecting out from the cement faces at either end. I had made a negative for the words from a block of plaster and carved out the letters free-handed with a router. I screwed it all together, it was about three feet square and weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds. I put a 3" eye bolt on the top as I had thoughts about hanging it. OSB or "oriented strand board" is made up of chips or shards of waste lumber. I ruined a trowel by smearing jet-black roofing compound over the entire surface. Joe, who is about six four and every bit two hundred plus told me in the crit-room that while he realized that OSB was the cheapest material, it was a bad choice, and the roofing compound was a sophomoric fix. There was no disagreeing with him. Truth be told, I had chosen the materials because after handling the stuff for months, nailing down literally hundreds of sheets, I'd go to sleep visioning it's fragmented, splintery surface.

I got the idea from a conversation I had with my friend Paula on a trip we took with my wife going up the eastern shore to New York. I can't remember how it went, something about depression, the affliction of it, the banality or something. I made the piece with her in mind, and afterwards asked her if I could install it in her apartment on Lombardy. She allowed this reluctently. I think I hurt her feelings, that I was saying she bitched all the time. The roofing compound never fully dried and it left black marks on her pine floors. After she moved away, it moved to Lisa T's backyard in Church Hill where it deteriorated and was eventually trashed. I don't think I ever got slides of it. It was a mediocre piece anyway.

I think what Paula was getting at was the process of dealing with pain, and in talking about it how you get sick of hearing yourself talk about it. Or that it never stops. I didn't care, I was in love with the word. Anguish is a word that sounds like what it means. It is the image of a body tumbling through space. To know it, fully, is to be crippled by it. Lying awake, it is a word that breaks over you like a wave. I think now that I should have driven the sculpture to the ocean and filmed it rolling in the surf. Anguish for the sadness associated with the sound of the ocean, Etc. for the set of waves lining up to crash.