An Annotated Portfolio & Project Documentaries

Eleven. “Pagan Dancer”

"Pagan Dancer" is the title I gave to this sculpture because of the mix and movements of the shapes within it.

I named the sculpture “Pagan Dancer”, especially for the figures on the top. The kneeling human leg and hip, the reaching claw, the rising pair of horns combine into one totemic creature, poised in the stillness of an archetypal and pagan dance.  These individual figures/shapes emerged as I pruned, sawed, and rasped on a single piece of “witch’s broom,” a tangle of Lodgepole pine tree limbs.
I had originally intended to make it a functional tree art piece as a base for a table lamp. But as I discovered the human and non-human animal shapes, I sensed it potential to become part of a larger sculpture, an assemblage in which the tree pieces would evoke and symbolize pagan, i.e., pre-Christian motifs.
There is an upward and outward flow to the entire sculpture.  The four pedestal posts suggest sinuous roots rising in and from an underworld, connecting the floor base piece with the undulating, rippling edges of the floating plane and surface from which the dancing figures emerge.
“Pagan Dancer” is made entirely of Lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta var. latifolia, that I found in the forest.  The floor base and doubled plane under the dancing figure are slices cut from the trunk of a standing dead tree.  The pedestal posts are individual tree trunks.
The components were assembled with glued mortise and tenon joiner, dowels, and concealed wood screws.  Only hand-held, non-electric tools were used to shape and smooth the surfaces and edges.  The finish consists of many hand rubbed coats of paste wax, applied over a penetrating oil-based sealer.
I haven’t seen any piece of sculpture that compares with “Pagan Dancer.”  To me, it exudes an other-worldly “Presence” worth of a viewer’s contemplation.





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