Shadows of the Past

Driving 8.5 hours from Pittsburgh to Connecticut, we broke up the trip by overnighting with my parents midway. I was happy to see these old friends again.

These are over twenty years old. I made them in high school when my imagination was deeply colored by the classic American weird writers Edgar Allen Poe & H.P. Lovecraft. Some classics merit acclaim, or attention, or whatever they merit chiefly due to their influence, but others stand on their own artistic achievement even today.

The urgent and concrete terror both authors can convey in their fiction holds up well to the modern reader. Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart introduced me to psychological horror around age twelve and has stuck with me for the next two and a half decades. The cataclysmic emotional release at the end of the tale demonstrated what a well crafted short story could accomplish. Lovecraft typically paints in dread rather than pandemonium. When I first discovered Lovecraft at fourteen I read (like so many of his protagonists) too much too quickly and ended up scared to walk down the dark hallway at night. I was certain that there were ghouls ready to pounce on me from the shadows!

My ceramics teacher, Jim Shirk, was a supportive mentor and always allowed me to create my own projects rather than follow his syllabus. I can remember the incredible schematic drawings he would spontaneously produce whenever we asked for creative advice and his beautiful, meticulous handwriting. Jim is a wonderful artist who, like me, loves to capture Nature’s beauty in his work. These two sculptures always evoke fond memories of my time learning from him.