The Insomnia Drawings

I have struggled with insomnia since I was a teanager. Lately I have had a resurgence of insomnia. Usually I eventually make up for lost sleep but in the meantime, I struggle. It is not that I never sleep, just that I cannot sleep at night for a normal 7-8 hours and have to make up for it later. Someone once said I keep jazz musician’s hours. When I was self employed, this was OK. Most of my adult life I have had to hold down a job employed by someone else. Luckily these were jobs I enjoyed, working in a living history museum for 19 years, 3 years as a graduate assistant and now, 10 or more years teaching at the college and university level.

My way of coping with insomnia has been, since 15 years of age, to put the time to good use making art. For 19 years, I painted in my attic.The past decade, I have played the piano with headphones on, and I have always written poetry. For the past several months, I have been drawing completing one or two drawings a week. sometimes more. Most of these have been non-objective. I have finally had to embrace my eclecticism even if it is not a good career choice. If you get known for one thing and then you switch to something else, you loose your brand so to speak. Of all the art Picasso made, his ceramic work was panned initially. Eventually this work was seen as groundbreaking in the field of ceramics. I am not claiming to be Picasso but I have learned to embrace my eclecticism weather others do or not

Here are my drawings from the past few months, some influenced no doubt by the current state of the world. I could be called a neo-modernist or neo expressionist with a predilection for Steiner’s ideas on art, and goethean color theory. I am a student of art of all kinds and of nature and of my own experiences.

Colored Pencil Drawings: August 2020

I do post my own work on this sight and sometimes feel uncomfortable or embarrassed doing so. I am open to posting any artist with a connection to Anthroposophy or any artistic endeavor influenced by Rudolf Steiner, or articles about art in general from a spiritual perspective and possibly some connection to Steiner’s work. So far, I am an editor of one for this site. Thank you for viewing.

The Four Evangels/Seraphim

Seraphim
32” tall; slip glazed; wood fired stoneware; 1993.


I consider myself an artist first and have been immersed in art from early childhood. I have a background in music, theater, poetry, painting, sculpture, and pottery, among other art and craft forms and media. Because of my work at Westville and my teaching, I am known mostly as a potter  I apprenticed with my father at 15 working with some of his college students in the late 70’s in what was then called Sugar Creek Pottery, later just Hawks Pottery. My father’s textbook for teaching then was Charles Counts book Pottery Workshop: A Study in the Making of Pottery. Both he and my father were influenced by Marguerite Wildenhain who studied at the Bauhaus. I saw countless potters working growing up, mostly in GA but my first pottery memory is from the Cole pottery in NC.

Ceramic Face piece by George Hawks
Marguerite Wildenhain, Pond Farm
Vase with portrait, Glazed stoneware

I worked later with Ron Meyers at UGA, Don Penny at Valdosta State, Jeff Kaller at Columbus State, and Holly Hanessian at FSU. When I began working at Westville in the late 1980’s, early 90’s, I interviewed D. X. Gordy who started the Westville pottery, watched him work and visited with him a few times both at his home and at Westville. I also did extensive historic research starting with Edgefield pottery and tracing the forms and craft as it migrated throughout the south, including some of the other origins that were specific in the development of GA pottery including places like Salem NC, etc. Technical ideas came from disparate sources on wood, salt, and slip glazing including Denis Parks and the whole  Leach/Hamada/Cardew tradition.

Ceramic Effigy pieces from Edgefield SC , 1800’s

I began to do face jugs at Westville and writing on some of them, in dialogue with Ned Berry, after my studies of the original face pieces from Edgefield SC. My father and I did face pieces back in the 70’s outside of the southern tradition more connected to a broader history of effigy ceramics. The totems came about somewhat outside of the traditions as well, though most of mine were slip and salt glazed, and wood fired. I had always admired Joe Bova’s work and am also a lifetime student of esoteric spirituality, specifically Christian esotericism as expounded on by the philosopher and early 20th century teacher Rudolf Steiner. My totems were directly inspired by a simple line drawing that Steiner did of the seraphim (also traditionally called the four evangels) as they relate to the human spiritual body, like the orientation of the chakras of eastern esotericism. My other totems are more comical and are closer to traditional face jugs and figurals.

Steiner’s Drawing of the Seraphim or Four Evangels

The imagery of the  four Seraphim, is a part of Judeo-Christian spirituality. It can be found in the old testament in the book of Isaiah and in the new testament in Revelation. They are later depicted in Medieval illuminated manuscripts of the 4 Gospels. In many manuscripts, images of the four figures were ornately drawn on the first page of each gospel, the eagle being associated with John, the angel or human figure associated with Mathew, the lion with Mark, and the Bull with Luke.

The piece shown at the beginning of this article was the 2nd in a series of approximately 9 around the same theme, in many ways the best, still in my possession along with one other. The rest which maybe 7 were completed, exist in various collections. The other one I still possess is an Americanized version, replacing the forms with a buffalo, a mountain lion, a Native American and a bald eagle. I have one more in this series yet to be completed and only exists in my mind and drawings and includes Anubis at the top as it came to me in a dream. Some of this is difficult to explain.

The serendipity of experiences extends to this specific piece as it had a kind of spiritual power and life of its own, which I do not claim as coming from me but from something higher. It also approached me, after making it, in a dream. During the firing, it withstood one of those kiln disasters you hear of; stacks of work in front of it collapsed. Consequently, it was blasted full force by the flame, ash, and salt which accounts for the patina it has. Many other pieces in that firing were not so fortunate. Things like this happen when dealing so directly with the elementals and other spiritual forces that sometimes make your hair stand on end.

        

Lion Face Jug, Stephen Hawks
Others in Series Stephen Hawks
American Version, Stephen Hawks

Hilma af Klint, Albert Steffen, Gerard Wagner

Below is an email message I received from Lightforms Art Center. I do not really known much about Albert Steffen’s Artistic work though I have read about his life and some of his writing, but this was years ago. In retrospect I can see his influence among anthroposophic artists. I have been aware of Gerard Wagner work for a while and if my memory is clear, I did some of his painting exercises several decades ago. Hilma af Klint, I have posted about in the past. Her work, though it effects me strongly, as does abstract art in general, I have not been initiated into her content and do not feel that I can truly speak about her work with any clarity, other than the feeling content, and by assessing the elements and principles of art and design within the work. These come out of modernist deconstruction but have their usefulness, especially if one does not simply use them to dissect without any feeling or thought for the overall intention of the artist. I will investigate Albert Steffen’s artistic practice more and perhaps post on my findings later. I may also write about Gerard Wagner as well.

Hilma af Klint, Albert Steffen, Gerard Wagner             For the second half of our Hilma af Klint Show The Spiritual and the Divine we are excited to pair Hilma af Klint’s work with two of her contemporaries: Albert Steffen and Gerard Wagner who worked in Dornach, Switzerland at the same time, creating art works inspired by the lectures, indications on the inner path and artistic work of Rudolf Steiner. We selected paintings of both Steffen and Wagner that touch on the same themes as the Hilma af Klint series here in the gallery at Lightforms. Plants, angels, nature beings and trees. The Tree of Knowledge Series by Hilma af Klint is an abstracted version of a tree in which flowers, birds and angels feature prominently. The striking difference of the style, approach and artistic expression of each artist is a strong testament to the ethical individualism that Rudolf Steiner encouraged with his writings, lectures and private consultations. We hope that the comparative juxtaposition of showing these three artists simultaneously is offering a small glimpse into the lively interactions of the members of the anthroposophical society in the early days of its existence.
*SHOW ENDS AUGUST 9TH, 2020
Hilma af Klint, TheTree of Knowledge Series
Albert Steffen
Gerard Wagner

Reverse Ritual

Recently I came across Hazel Archer-Ginsberg’s web site and blog Reverse Ritual. It has a wide variety of visual art.to illustrate her writing and is worth looking at:

RS art April 20 1923 bordtekening

Why Reverse Ritual ? some thoughts by Hazel Archer Ginsberg

The Reverse Ritual has its origins in the realm of the highest, deepest & most comprehensive world reality in which the human being, the gods, & the cosmos existentially live, weave, & are present.

For the human being the experience of the highest divine unity is threefold.It is not just a passive thinking, feeling & willing – it is an active, creative, co-thinking, co-feeling, & co-willing with the Godhead.

The body of the Reverse Ritual consists of human thoughts, words & deeds that are ever striving to grasp & further spiritual knowledge, vis-à-vis a cosmic-artistic enlivening, creating paths in the eternal being of the human soul.”

Lightforms Art Center, Hudson, NY

https://www.lightformsartcenter.com/

There has been a very exciting development in Hudson, NY, the creation of Lightforms Gallery:

“Lightforms is a center for cultural renewal that brings creative artists and their artwork into the public domain in innovative ways that stimulate dialogue around the inner and outer challenges of our time and attempts to serve the spiritual needs of human beings in their daily lives. 

Lightforms intends to realize its mission through public presentations, exhibitions, installations, workshops, lectures, conferences, and performances; an artist-in-residence program; a research center for the further development and understanding of the spiritual foundations of the visual arts; a possible artists grants program; a permanent collection/archive; publications; and a small gift shop.”

I once had the privilege of attending an arts conference in Hudson and this is a fine and powerful addition to what already exists in the area. The town is a beautiful place to visit and still has much of the allure that was once captured by the Hudson River school of artists, a group of artists also inspired by the forms of light.

Frederic Edwin Church, Sunset across the Hudson Valley, 1870

Frederic Edwin Church, Sunset across the Hudson Valley, 1870

Hudson , NY

Hudson , NY

World Economy

“The Whole Earth considered as an economic organism, is the social organism.”            Lecture Series in World Economy,  Rudolf Steiner

page30

Reading this book I still contemplate the role of art in the threefold social order. These issues, from my perspective, have been tangentially debated in the school of art where I work, not necessarily with the perspective of an anthroposophical world view, but as a mater of contemporary process. What role does money play in the arts? To what extent, as art educators, do we prepare our students for the profession of art? How will they make money after they are graduated and how will they sustain their artistic practice? Should we as artists and educators be apologetic about the often assumed impracticality of an art degree, which is idealistic at its foundation? Since the artist is a laborer, in some degree like any other laborer, how do they participate in the the economic social organism and maintain their idealistic purpose as artists. Some of the things that were learned by the transitions from modernism to post modernism, is that art can be viewed as an extremely lucrative  commodity (for better or worse), and that funding for the arts, cannot be ultimately dependent on the government, especially if it wishes to remain free.

After a lull I have returned to write down a few more thoughts on reading Steiner’s lectures on World Economy. At the time of Steiner’s lectures, World Economy was an emerging idea, now it is an accepted, though often troubling, fact. Steiner, despite the esoteric nature of his ideas, dealt in practicalities. He stressed the idea that money must always be perceived in its relationship to nature and labor directly associated with nature, commodities from nature as worked upon by labor. Art and artists, though their materials come from nature and they are also physical laborers to some extent, are categorized with the prototypes of priests, teachers, and clerks as spiritual laborers. The fruits of their labor find value in direct relation to labor associated with nature, cultivating the land for food and hunting are the first examples of this that come to mind and while even these have aspects of spiritual labor, they are more directly associated with nature and associated with natural process, the part of us that is also of nature and by necessity needs food , shelter and clothing.

The world as we know it today, Has exploded from the examples of spirit labor, priests, teachers, clerks, and artists, to a world in which many of us, if not most are now in professions of specialization that might be classed as spirit labour. We all still rely on nature labor and the wages or compensation we earn, is in direct relation and proportion to the offsetting of labor we are not required to do to feed cloth and shelter ourselves.

Steiner does not suggest that we should return to a simpler time. On the contrary he seeks to clarify and balance these relationships, not abolish them, The same goes for the role of land, capitol, investment, loans, profit, and gifting, among other concepts associated with the then newly emerging science of economics. He was establishing the groundwork for a healthy and vital social organism that would sustain and propel the complex evolutionary processes of human development.

If we, as artists see these relationships, we cannot deny our role as spirit laborers, but also cannot separate ourselves entirely from the role of money and the need for ordinary compensation for our work.  In order to remain free, as artists and spiritual laborers, however, we have to dig deeper. Here is where a deeper understanding of the threefold social organism is essential. We as world citizens, and as citizens of our, nation, state and communities, are a part of all three spheres, the cultural, the rights, and the economic spheres. Even though we are more invested in the cultural sphere, we cannot ignore our part in the others, as whole and integrated human beings.

NH-World-economy-figure-1

Dr. Steiner had a Sense of Humor

 

bb68a3e75b2d5efddd3ec4e4c622357e

I feel and think it is important for those involved in the anthroposophical movement to remember that Rudolf Steiner had a sense of humor as well as a life before anthroposophy, like Goethe in his semi-autobiographical The Sorrows of Young Werther. After all the centerpiece of the Goetheanum includes the Spirit of Cosmic Humor (note the upper left corner of the image above). As I mentioned in the last post, I am reading Steiner’s lectures on World Economy  You would not expect to find humor there, but last night I busted out laughing at one of his many anecdotal stories. I was first introduced to the caricatures of Rudolf Steiner by Harold Christian Friedly in 2003 at an Art Section conference in Denver: RUDOLF STEINER PHYSIOGNOMIES Caricatures

The Artist

The Artist

 

Goethean and Steiner Color Theory

Baron Arild Rosenkrantz, 1870-1964

Here are links to a presentation I give on Goethean and Steiner color theory, both as a PPT presentation and as a PDF. They may also be found under Color above. I have used this presentation in some form for over a decade as a guest lecturer and in my classes. It is by no means comprehensive. There are no notes. I cannot follow notes while lecturing and have always improvised using visual clues:

Goethean_Steiner Color Theory

Goethean_Steiner ColorTheory_2D Design

World Economy, Rights, and the Cultural Sphere

Lecture Series On World Economy

worldecon_cov

I am reading Steiner’s lecture series on World Economy. It has been important to me to understand the three ideal ordering spheres of contemporary society in order to better understand the role of the cultural sphere, which art is a part of. It takes a long time for me to let things sink in. Within the cultural sphere, I participate in education, the arts and science in my own small way.

I want to understand the interrelationship of the 3 spheres of human activity. One of the reasons I took up teaching was to to try to free myself economically so that my art would not depend so much on sales, that and the feeling that I finally had something to teach that might benefit my students. I also felt I could now reenter the world as it is. Working in a historic village for 19 years hid the truth that my heart, soul and mind were modern and contemporary, despite the apparent anachronisms in my work.

I am not apolitical but politics and the realm of rights is not my main focus, though I am involved to some extent, and cannot help but be aware of current political issues. I see much of the art that is critically acceptable today as overlapping into economics and the realm of rights and politics. I am uneasy with art not playing, primarily a cultural and ultimately spiritual role in human development. However, I celebrate the present eclecticism and range of contemporary art.

I have done a few political pieces in the past. One was recently accepted into a juried exhibit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Make America Great Again”, Political Jug with All-Seeing Eye, 8 inches X 5 inches, ceramic, cone 6, gas fired, reduction stoneware, with local mesquite ash glaze and low fire decals, 2018

Here is my explanation of the piece:

“I teach in a contemporary university but have a background and reputation as a traditional potter, versed in Americana. When I was doing this piece I was thinking of our present political climate, rampant conspiracy theories reaching into the occult foundations of democracy in Free Masonry, but also of the traditions and pugilistic nature of our politics of the past, where liquor bought votes at the polling booths, and fights often broke out. Then there is the history of the all-seeing eye which includes imagery from pre-Columbian indigenous cultures, including the southeast where I am from.

So much is backwards from what we might wish for our struggling democracy. What does it really mean to be ‘great’, as opposed to the least common denominator present in clichés that, if not devoid of meaning, are merely synonymous with ‘power’ which was never really what made, or makes America great. It is also a little bit of a joke”