I’m a woodcarver. Michelangelo, a marble carver, said that a figure already exists within the block, and one only needed to remove the superfluous material to reveal it. I know that this was only partly true. The figure in the block exists within the artist and is shaped by his perceptions and his experience and his understanding of the world around him. Everybody brings themselves and their world to the block, and everybody sees a different figure.
When I have an idea I often do a lot of preparation, sketching on paper or making clay models for a piece. Often, however, I start carving without a plan, I choose a block and start removing material, waiting to see what might emerge and eventually stumbling upon a idea and pursuing that, only to find out that I had already removed wood that may have been useful and so I’m forced to get creative, working within a cramped and limited space. That’s when the figure within the block becomes something I haven’t seen before, both a part of me and a reflection of the state of the culture. Sometimes the figure is monstrous.
Back to the un-carved block—sometimes it’s not wood or marble but a life, and the goal is to remove everything, all of the superfluous material, that prevents us from seeing—or from being—who we really are. This is easier for some people than for others. Some have to fight a hostile culture and rigid biases (born out of established belief systems but often—and increasingly—solidified into law). We all want the surface to match the person inside. It’s not always safe, but some are courageous enough or desperate enough to painfully remove the superfluous material and reveal their true selves.
"Battle For The Soul of The Planet"
New works by C.A. Stigliano
The exhibition will be presented in the Great Hall and Vault galleries from May 2 - May 27, 2023.
In an exhibition of three-dimensional and relief woodcarving, Stigliano presents work with political and social implications. With public discourse deteriorating into open warfare, this exhibition shines a light on the disconnection of humankind.
Friday, May 5, from 5–8pm
Saturday, May 6, at 1pm
These people, facing enormous challenges, are among those who are unjustly blamed for everything, from the cost of eggs to the decline of culture.
This show is about the monsters. They’re the people who have everything and want more. These are the people who benefit from the sowing of anger and fear. They isolate and insulate themselves from the rest of the world, buying expensive toys and watching as we turn against each other.
The monsters are not the people who are struggling to get by or the people who vote for the wrong guy or even the ones who go into churches and elementary schools with guns. The monsters are the people who shape them, the lackeys with lapel pins who tell us that our real problems come from the brown people in the house next door; or maybe from two houses down, where they say there are people who want to destroy your family and harm your children. They tell you that the people who are different are dangerous, and we’re all in trouble if we don’t do something. They tell us that looking out for ourselves is more important than looking out for each other.
There are monsters with microphones who distract and divide us with stories designed to create anger and fear. They’re responsible for the constant pointing at the most disenfranchised among us and delivering the messages we hear every day: “they’re the ones taking what should be yours, we need to stop them.”
We live in a culture that profits from anger and fear. If a person or a class or a tribe can be made angry enough, or fearful enough, they can be sold anything; a lie, or a gun, or a horribly unqualified candidate for office. Anger and fear drive people to act, to buy, to vote or to kill.
This show is about the the monsters, but not only them. I find hope in everyone who raises their voices in protest, in the women who will not be forced back into the narrow choices of a century ago, and who refuse to sit quietly while their children go out into an unsafe world, and I find hope in those children. I tried to sum it all up in one piece. On one side a corrupt and threatening presence in a dark and damaged world; on the other a child. I have a lot of hope in the next generation, so many of them look beyond their own welfare and so many are ready to show us that they have the will and the strength to fight.
I found monsters in blocks of wood, but I found a few heroes as well.
Thanks to Molly Demeulenaere for this opportunity to show what I’ve been doing in the basement for the last five years. And thanks to Gustave Dore, Auguste Rodin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and every other artist I’ve stolen from. Thanks especially to Stephanie Mahan Stigliano, for everything.
War in Heaven II, Battle for the Soul of the Planet. 2021, Poplar 24 x 39 x 2”
Fighting Words. 2022, 25 x 11 x 15”
We Are Not Okay. 2023, Walnut, 12 x 3 x 6”