As a boy, I traveled to the stone quarries with my uncles, sometimes in search of stones with particular shapes, driven by an artistic idea. Other times we sought out a variety of shapes and sizes, which would guide us — essentially letting the raw, natural qualities drive the artistic possibilities.
Stones are extracted using block and tackle. In order to move a large stone down the mountain, several men use levers to roll the stone.
Most people in the U.S. are stunned to learn that the stone I sculpt comes all the way from Zimbabwe. While Colorado offers marble and other types of beautiful stone, I prefer to carve the stone I became familiar with as a young child, learning from my grandfather, uncles and mother.
When carving, I rely almost exclusively on hand tools so that I can better respond to the natural qualities of the stone and make adjustments gradually as I work.
I start by removing portions of raw stone, but I leave other oxidized areas of the stone intact so that in almost all of my pieces, you can see part of the natural element in its original form. I use chisels, files and rasps in order to define and smooth parts of the stone. If I want to achieve a polished look on portions, the stone is heated and a clear wax is applied.
Working in stone is incredibly fascinating to me because I’m forced to comply with its natural qualities. The stone’s color variations can either help something about the sculpture — like a face — to really stand out, making the piece even more beautiful than you had imagined.
When I’m able to humble myself and surrender to the innate properties of the stone, I find that my art really communicates something in a universal and authentic way. That is always my goal.