Second image is a collaged apppropriation with the virgin of Guadelupe, sourced from a placemat used at a resturaunt that Nancy and I frequented while I was attending FSU. I could get a huge burrittto for only $2. The lower right corner have images of forms concurrent with my 3D practice and above that, a diagram of Rudolf Steiner’s color theory.
Category Archives: Esoteric/Occult
The Four Evangels/Seraphim
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
“The Whole Earth considered as an economic organism, is the social organism.” Lecture Series in World Economy, Rudolf Steiner
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.
Goethean and Steiner Color Theory
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:
World Economy, Rights, and the Cultural Sphere
Lecture Series On World Economy
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”