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NWSSA Symposium at Suttle Lake, Oregon, USA

michael binkley sculptor nwssa sculpture symposium oregon usa

I attended the Northwest Stone Sculptors Association’s Oregon symposium which was held at Camp Sisters on Suttle Lake situated on the east side of the Cascade Mountain range. The location was brand new for the Assoc. this year, having had to move from the Silver Falls location of two decades. The new location is lovely, with generous and attentive staff and a carving field among tall evergreens. Suttle Lake is just steps away, with swimming, canoeing and kayaking available.

I was invited to join this group of mostly Oregon stone carvers as a guest instructor. I gave an evening slide presentation, introducing myself and my work and acted as a mentor on the work field during the day. I am always impressed with the talent and enthusiasm of new stone carvers, and this group was no exception. As usual, once a new carver sees power tools in use, the hand tools are quickly dropped. But guiding new hands through the motions of electric and pneumatic tools is always a cautious process.

michael binkley sculptor nwssa sculpture symposium oregon usa

Our group was honoured to have Kazutaka Uchida join us this year, visiting from Japan. Mr. Uchida studied with Isamu Noguchi, and has been very influenced by Noguchi’s esthetic. Mr. Uchida also gave a slide presentation of his work and shared his creative process on the field (above, left). It was interesting for me to see his meticulous approach to his conception and execution.

michael binkley sculptor nwssa sculpture symposium oregon usa

One of my take-aways from the symposium was an evening workshop lead by my friend Richard Hestekind, an artist from Seattle, WA, USA. Richard took us all through the steps of Sculpture and Space – sculpture for space, sculpture in space and space as sculpture. I have always intuitively known of the constructs of sculpture in space, of curating a sculpture in a space and many sculptures together in an exhibition. How best should a sculpture be placed in space to maximize the artist’s intended message? How will light fall on the sculpture inside or outside? What I learned from Richard was how to articulate those concepts into verbal language, so I can pass on the information to others going forward. Thank you, Richard!

It was a great week with fellow artists who like to get dirty creating art from stone, connecting with old friends and making some new ones.