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

*Note: I have been motivated by resent interest in this series to finish this one that I have contemplated for years. I am in the process of developing the work in the context of a larger installation work. Some thoughts as I worked on this new piece:

American Totem 8/6/2021
I have added Text and finished with the colored (red, yellow. blue, and violet) and black slips. The Coyote has only the black slip and raw clay. “That Good May Become” is from the Foundation Stone Meditation by Steiner as is the Verse for America. I get impatient with my own writing so just improvised and it is not the best text, I may inscribe some more imagery on the back but haven’t decided yet. When I am finished with the work, I will work on a longer explanation of my intention for the piece. hopefully it will come across some without the explanation. Most art is autobiography at some level.

Verse for America

May our feeling penetrate
into the center of our heart,
and seek, in love, to unite itself
with the human beings seeking the same goal,
with the spirit beings who — bearing grace,
strengthening us from realms of light
and illuminating our love —
are gazing down upon
our earnest, heartfelt striving.
~ Rudolf Steiner, 1923

The totem is a cross and will be on a simple wooden alter with 2 candles. The candle holders will be 2 sculptures like my form sculptures, blue and red, representing Jacob and Boaz, a gate and 2 guardians and tempters as the country passes the threshold of consciousness and into the spirit world. Though the 4 lower figures still represent the seraphim, they are also traditional representations of 4 human archetypes, the melancholic, the choleric, the sanguine, and the saturnine. also used before modern medicine for diagnosis.

I still feel some ambiguity as to the use and meaning of the Coyote. In the dream, it may well have been Anubis. At any rate, I have used the coyote as it is more representative of America and in Native American culture the coyote is an important figure and is often a trickster. This can be seen also as a positive. Like Br’er Rabbit, he is always escaping peril, sometimes in humorous ways.

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”

 

 

Logos Empiricus

Stephen Hawks

I am preparing for a local exhibit This month, opening April 20, 2018, at Artivivo Art Studio Owned by Teodoro Estrada in Brownsville TX. There will be Pottery Sculpture and 2D works:

“You are cordially invited to view the work of Stephen Hawks, “Logos Empiricus” at Artevivo Art Studio on Friday April 20, 2018. Exhibit reception from 6 – 9pm. Artevivo Art Studio is located at 535 E 12 between Washington and Elizabeth.” The exhibit may be viewed by appointment throughout the rest of the month.

Alkaline Glaze

Alkaline Glaze

A traditional alkaline glaze is made from limestone and or ashes (which contains alkaline salts including calcium), clay, and sand or crushed glass. Clay is an Alumina silicate, Al2O3 2SiO2 2H2O.  The green color comes from iron in an oxygen starved, or reduction atmosphere during the firing process. I thought it might be interesting to look at an example of this in the context of a quote from Steiner from his Agricultural lectures:

“Lime is Generalized Outer desire. Silica is Generalized outer Perception. Clay mediates between them. Clay is closer to silica but mediates towards lime.”

In ceramics, Limestone is a flux causing silica, the glass former, to melt and flow. Clay contains silica and alumina. The alumina helps stabilize the glaze. What we ate seeing in the glaze above is Limestone, silica and clay (with a small amount of iron) working together. It is the visual expression of what Steiner is saying.

Finished Tile Mural

I finally finished the 2nd tile mural in a series on Metamorphosis of form. The first was called Toward Metamorphic Apotheosis. In some ways I think this one is better. 

Tile Series 2

 

The Abduction of Sophia/ Subduing of Ahriman

The Abduction of Sophia/ Subduing of Ahriman,

Cone 6 Gas Fired Stoneware, 15” X 24” 2014

This is a piece I did a few years ago. The Title image, The Abduction of Sophia, was a recycling of some drawings I did in the 1990’s in preparation for a painting that I never started. The idea arose from reading translations of original Gnostic texts detailing some of the Gnostic myths. I opted to do a semi literal rendering since it is told in this way.  When I started to add the images to the ceramic vessel, I decided to  contrast the abduction with the subduing of Ahriman by Michael. Then I thought to contrast the images of the crucifixion of Christ and the crucifixion of the black magician, in the Americas at the time of Christ, on each side. This comes from Steiner’s lectures on the Mexican mysteries and the Knights Templar. The contrasting scriptures are as follows: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”(Psalm 23:4”, and “The wicked are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”  (Psalm 1:4). Oddly enough, I remember the second verse not from Sunday school but from an Emlyn Williams play entitled  Night must Fall. 
As you can see, the colors did not quite come out as bright as in the work in progress. There was too much reduction in the gas kiln and it bled the oxides in the slips and stains. Sometimes I will fire again in oxidation with more color, but I decided to leave it as it is. It is a dark piece. For better or worse, I will let it speak for itself without explaining too much.