Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 11:25AM
dan webb

Cut the prayer-hand


the air

with the eye-


lop its fingers off

with your kiss:


Now a folding takes place

that takes your breath away


-Paul Celan



Destroyer is the name of my show that will go up in August at the Greg Kucera Gallery, and run through September.

 I’ve often noticed during the course of making a carving that the pieces of wood I cut off and throw away are often every bit as good as the parts I save. The distance between the ‘waste’ and the ‘art’ is often the thickness of a saw blade. This observation has led me to make a body of work where rather then separating the scrap from the sculpture, as I usually do, I have instead kept them joined. The juxtaposition of conscious choice next to unconscious consequence has become the conceptual starting point for the work.

 By plunge cutting sections out of the blocks with a chainsaw, and then carving a series of chains at one end, the limbs are articulated out in one piece. I wanted there to be a sense of freedom or even abandon in the limbs, even as they remained chained to their heavily rooted cores. The freedom they have engineered is real enough, as are the limits that they are literally attached to.

 There is always the feeling when I carve of being caught in a landslide, as the dust and shavings fall. Learning to ride a wave of potential disaster not only successfully, but gracefully, requires figuring out how to choose the least worst path along the way. For this reason, carving seems to illustrate very clearly both entropy, where complex systems break down, and serendipity, where good fortune is culled out of an uncontrollable set of circumstances.

 In a similar fashion, who we start out being isn’t exactly who we are in the end. But who we end up being depends on what we have to work with at the beginning. The entropic process of our own breaking down is tempered by our ability to manage the serendipity of the fall. We are our own work in progress. This work documents the hopefulness, inventiveness, and the violence, of that process.

Article originally appeared on danwebb (
See website for complete article licensing information.