ARTIST TALK: Del – October 18, 2019

thanks for being here this evening. I do want to give thanks to the Regional Arts
and Culture Council for supporting my endeavors. I’d also like to thank a few people that have
assisted me in producing some of these pieces. Matty Siers, Cheyenne Montowelpen. And I don’t know her last name but Carolyn. I’d also like to give thanks to Patricia Doneyv
for allowing me to work in her basement in the production of this. And I’m just very thankful in general. I want to give thanks to so many other people
to. So, let me talk about my background in art. In my early childhood, I was exposed to…
we had a huge family Bible. And had these… I haven’t seen anything remotely similar to
that Bible. It had these… and this is me as a child
back in the UK had 500 plus color four plates. And each drawer and with allegorical religious
themes. It it also had tracing papers are protective. And what I would do as a child I would trace
the images on top of that tracing paper. And all of those pieces were the works of
Renaissance artists. I buy… I think then… so I was doing that for quite
some time as a child. Turning to that Bible and using it as recreational
means of char, childish play. And I then progress to the works of Michelangelo. We both share it share the same birthday,
March 6. And I would… well, each year the British
media would give him great coverage. And as a result, I somewhat developed a critical
eye and observe in his work. And, but there was something missing with
what he was producing. Like all the great Renaissance painters, I
wasn’t seeing images of myself or that of my father, who had that very muscular type
of body that you see in the creation. That muscular form on the figure of the left,
Adam. So, so I wasn’t seeing these images of black
folk. But probably around the same time, that was
happening on the African continent. There was this image of my very first the…
probably, the very first image that I saw of any black figure was being represented
in in the color supplements of the “Sunday Observer”. And it was this African mask. And I remember being very careful activated
by it. I would stare… I stared at it for hours. Very powerful, very beautiful. Okay. You can tell I’ve written a script, don’t
you. Yeah that mask. I eventually left the UK… I left the UK… I couldn’t wait to leave actually. I was… I just couldn’t get into the British educational
system it was… it was so colonial based. You know, studying in the Victorian era, the
Edwardian, the Georgian. All these periods that were very remote to
me. So I left the UK in the late 80s and I went
to New York. I happened to be reside in three blocks away
from the Brooklyn Art Museum. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to make
a living. Now I was an illegal alien. And anyone that wanted to hire me was going
to be heavily found… find, any employer would be heavily fined. So I decided to get all my artistic skills
that I have developed and put them to great use and try to make a living somehow. So I was I would go to the… The Brooklyn Art Museum. I decided I’m going to create a series of
greeting cards. And I will draw African figures, figurines,
and then create this series and package them. And I, so I did just… Well, I did the drawings. And I created five joins that I was pretty
happy with. But I still felt there was something missing. I heard that the Metropolitan Art Museum had
a great African art section. And I chose one day to visit, and I got up
to the department, and I saw this remarkable mouse. It was like seeing an old friend. It was the same mask that I saw in that color
supplement. Only this time I was seeing it in the flesh. I can remember very distinctively laying eyes
on it. And there was no one in front of it. No one around it. It wasn’t cautioned off by rope. And I walked right up to it. And I was standing very close as close as
I am to this mic. And it was, it was a beautiful sight. And that piece had been carved in the same
era of the Renaissance period. It was carved out of ivory. And they had inlay of iron and apparently
has inlay of copper. And the pieces the Mother, Queen Mother Pendant
Mask. I think the Renaissance is has a very significant…
has great significance for me. It makes me also think of… my English literature
teacher coming into the classroom one day and telling us we’re going to… we’re going
to read the sonnets of Shakespeare. Sonnet 130. And I do want you to know that he he was known
to have had a relationship with a black woman. And I thought: “Wow that’s pretty scandalous! Tell me more.” And so I will recite that for you. Because this will be a segue into how I think
in the production of Goddess. It may be inspired me in some way. So it’s… how I’ll start. “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; If snow be white, why then her breast are
dun? If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her
head. I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks: And in some perfumes is there more delight than
in the breath that from my mystery reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
that music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mysteries,
when she walks, treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think my love is rare
as any she belied with false compare.” Well… yeah, I want to talk about my pieces
here, and feel free to ask me questions cuz I prefer. I prefer that. So I bought these props, and they are very
African. Most… It’s not uncommon in scope to pieces or covenant
pieces to to to have a forms be elongated in some way. But I have this piece of Santa Claus. That is my very first piece I purchased before
I even got into carving myself. I was always one captivated by carve pieces
and I think what inspired me with this is just the the sense of the carver’s humor with
the elongated hats and the various squats body. This is a Hawaiian figure, female form. And I didn’t bring the original one that I
had purchased… that, by the way, the Santa Claus is probably 30 years ago. This Hawaiian figure is no maybe 20 plus years. But it’s also kind of a conversation pieces
and Nutcracker. Yes, it’s got some human. Yeah. This is Becky, could you give descriptions
as you go for those in the audience who can’t see what you’re showing, please? Okay. Thank you. So, um, so I… do I need to go back to the
Santa Claus? And so the Hawaiian female form is laying
on her back. It’s as though you were basking in the sun. Or she is. She has her arms, elevated behind, elevated
on a… up and holding the back of her head. She’s chesty, she’s top… topless. Yes. And we’re in a very short skirt, has muscular,
firm firm thighs. And between the knee and the ankle is pretty
elongated. And then the feet of flexed forward. So she has rather long legs. But the original form of this that I have…
didn’t bring it because it’s it’s a rare, it’s rare and it’s a collector’s item. So it’s a good two and a half inches even
longer. And you prise you can… Well, you can prizse the legs apart and you
would put an walnuts or some form of nuts and close the legs and crack the nut. And I have a fascination with fertility pieces,
whether they’re male or female, but African fertility pieces. It’s harder to find the male male forms or
interpretations. But I have one here that’s itself African
female. Has a very… well, let me approach the… Let me think of the head. And the eyes bulging. out. She is pregnant too. Eyes bulging. It is very exaggerated. The nose is his long nose, long thin nose,
thin lips and that is somewhat long and flappy. And, yeah, flappy earlobes. And that… the neck is very long gated is
just very extreme. And then she’s holding and the rest of us
pretty squat. She’s… her arms are holding us stomach,
her pregnant stomach. The legs are pretty squat, has a very tiny
rear end, and is on a roundish base. Now this other piece… is another female. It could even be the same… so obviously
caused by a different hand. But it could almost be the same woman. However now she’s not in such agonizing pain
because that’s what I see in this one. Here she’s given birth. I mean you can… the head is the same it’s
got the flappy ears. Probably a little bit more detail in the facial
features, but definitely has the same type of is. There’s the hoops around the neck. It’s very tribal. Well, again, top heavy. And she’s cradling her child in arms and she
seated on on a little stool. So I’m very inspired by African Black culture. That’s the direction that I’m seeing myself
move into. And so… with the guitar. We’ve got us… there’s, there’s a elongation
of the neck of the fret board. There’s the African female mask at the head. And the tune in pegs could be… could be
conceived as a headdress, or what I’ve seen in the South African American females with
hair rollers in the head. And they are walk around in slippers. It’s very casual. Just a normal Sunday. So I’ve taken the the fretboard from a battered
guitar, and then I decided to carve a new body create a new body in a female form, the
top heavy aspect, I added abalone shell, the backside of the abalone shell. I just love the texture of the abalone. And in some shells it has… it definitely
has these pronounce areas that do simulate that have nipples. So I in… then I inlaid, I carved into these
massive wood. I gotta say it was challenging to create the
symmetry. I have a whole new respect for the female
anatomy. I do. And a mentor in ladies, the abalone shell
into the areas that was challenging too. Constantly stop and imbed it in the area until
it fit just right. So the stomach… I was thinking of some of these African female
forms in terms of maybe fertility figure. But also I wanted her to have full exaggeration
of her form. And that is, I was also thinking a lot of
about… in yoga, I practice yoga consistently, and there’s an instructor that would always
say, and still does today: “You… when you’re… can… when you’re in some of the yoga postures,
you don’t want the contents of your stomach spilling from the bowl.” So I was to sue in and trying to create a
bowl like effect. And so I wanted to keep going deeper and deeper
and deeper. Until I was pretty happy with what I have
here. The naval is a red gemstone. It’s you delight is found in only a few countries:
Russia, Canada and Brazil. I didn’t know this but the just the figure
eight form itself. It has so much symbolism for so many different
cultures. And of course, the most common thing you would
think about is the infinity symbol. But it’s more than just that for some some
cultures. And it’s interesting how during times when
I was carving, just having the figure eight, it didn’t matter how much I took away from
the some area. Sometimes I’d have… I would have carved more on one side, and
the other… to them be able to still… set it up right. As I have this piece, I mean we just sit there. Sometimes I would have it wrapped in cloth
and it was just and I could still place it on some surface and he would just sit there. Just just incredible. Right. So that is “Goddess”. With each piece I produce, I embed the title
in on the side. On the left side, on the right side, I have
my signature And the piece… on the opposite side I’ll have my signature and the date it
was produced. “La diva” or “The Divine” in English is a
work in progress. It’s, it is…white oak is 340 years old. It’s very hard, it’s very heavy. And this is my interpretation of “The Divine”. Again I have, I have opted to convey the elongation
and taking it to some and taking it to an extreme. I have a figure that will be sitting in this
area. I have it in my bag. It’s a it’s a finger that’s kneeling and praying. And I will have resting on this massive wood. And that could even be like it’s the finger
resembles Mary or Madonna or maybe something out of Da Vinci’s “Madonna of the Rocks”. Yeah, there’s a little bit more work to be
done on this. I will stay in it black. The finger board will be black urbanized. Black finger bowed. And the neck or the head will be a male version
of Goddess. And that’s about it. No questions. You want me to keep talking? Oh, yes. Oh, yes, absolutely. Sorry. I have a mic if anybody does have questions. I’m wondering how long it took you to carve
the… the one that’s finished? The Goddess? It took just over two months. And it could have taken me a could have been
quicker but I am kind of all over the place. I’ve been doing business courses and… yeah. I haven’t put as much time in to these as
as I really would like to. But on my weekends a little bit limited also. So I am not able to work on a lot of fees
on these pieces of the weekend. Perfect. Any other questions? I noticed that “The goddess” that to the left
and right of the breasts. You decided to make it for a jacket, the surface
is jacket, but the rest of the surface is really smooth. So is that supposed to be where the arm is
or we supposed to imagine something else? On the jacket on the left side? To the left to the right. Oh, yeah, it’s of course I go back to the
Renaissance period, you know, with what is it Botticelli with the “Venus de Milo”? Yes. Where the arms are cropped. That was what I was thinking there. And the same with “The Divine”, the cropped
arms. But the but… the crop copying the arms it
seems very appropriate for this curvature right here. And have, you know, to have a crop… is a
little bit smooth. I wanted to have more mass than essentrally. But yeah, I wanted to crop the arms. I have a question. Does the guitar have any other significance
other than lending some obvious physical attributes like the elongated neck. And and harking back to your African figures,
does the guitar have injure of significance? It does in terms of paying, given homage to
African American Black musicians from the past. You know, I could be thinking of Lead Belly,
Robert Johnson. Yes, given homage to the founders of the blues. Any other questions? Sure. Let me bring a mic over to you. This way the recording will pick up your question. On “The Divine” peace you’ve got like lines
going down the right side of the torso. Is that significant? Or is that just incomplete? What’s, you know what I mean? Like there’s, like fret bars on the right
one would be… Yeah, those! These right here. Uh, huh. And vertical lines going through the body. I just haven’t had a chance to work in it. That well, yeah, it’s just it’s just the approach
that I’ve taken to take away the wood at this point. But those lines, I might, they might still
be there in some manner. When I, I am really focused heavily in the
muscular the chest area within the abdominal area because I really want to work in to create
a muscular form and to convey the into coastles, those into coastal areas, too. Perfect, thank you so much, Del, for sharing
your art. We appreciate it and thank you everybody for
coming. And if anybody wants to go explore the museum
from here, you’re welcome to what’s open until 8. And for those who want to return back to the
mark building and get anything that you may have checked at coat check, we will be happy
to go over together. Thank you. Transcribed by

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