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.

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

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

Considering Joseph Beuys

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How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare

My interest in the work of Joseph Beuys runs parallel to my introduction to many of the people active in the American Arts section of the Anthroposophical Society in America, early in this century. While attending grad school, I made Beuys the topic of one of my art history term papers. I sent the paper to someone in the arts section and was understandably rebuked for not having researched properly,  among other things. I had not had access to or time to read what had been written about Beuys from within the Anthroposophical movement except minimally.  It was also inferred that my own artistic endeavors involving the manifestation of Anthroposophy was more important than my weak critical analysis. This too was right, which I tried to do, in my small way, in the thesis work I produced at the time.

Never the less, I think it might be of interest to some, especially those unfamiliar with the esoteric roots of Beuys work. It may serve as a basic introduction, pointing out, but with limited esoteric content.

For any that might question my closing assessment of Beuys work in this paper and to avoid misunderstanding in general, It is not meant as a condemnation but as an empathetic gesture; I owe Beuys a lot; If the artistic path is not a path to freedom, then what is it?

Here is the link:

Esoteric Foundations of Joseph Beuys’ Art in the Teachings of Rudolf Steiner

Note: The above file is compiled from scanned pages, due to my poor typing skills and for the sake of expediency.  Consequently, paradoxically and unfortunately, I was unable to edit out the typos and the grading marks.

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

 

Hilma af Klint

I have decided to retire the Hilma af Klint page for a while for various reasons until I can adequately access the works and make sure the images are in the public domain. Until then here is a link to the Google search for her work: Hilma af Klint.

exhibition: ‘hilma af klint – artist, researcher, medium’ at moderna museet malmö

THE GRAIL TRIPTYCH

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The Grail Triptych, 1909-13, by Anna May von Richter [Rychter], Destroyed by bombing during World War II.

Something that Steiner said in his lectures on art (The Arts and Their Mission) struck me very strongly (among other things),  that it didn’t matter whether  art used naturalism or not but what mattered was whether the spirit shone through in the work. This is an inadequate paraphrase. I recently came across an early 20th century artist that proved this to me. Her style was so unique and unlike other Anthroposophical art practitioners that It convinced me of what I was sure was possible. There is a real embodiment of Anthroposophical experience but with a very different style to other Anthroposophical artists. I came across this extraordinary image along with an essay by Margarethe Hauschka about the work, while looking for something else on the Internet. A translation of the essay by Sonia Homrich may be found at the following link: https://plus.google.com/+SoniaHomrich/posts/LtR4qRoTy4A

 My consciousness continually draws parallels from sometimes disparate things. When I saw this image what came to mind was a great 20th century work,  Der Krieg, by Otto Dix. Anna May von Richter’s work seems an antidote to the horror and suffering depicted in Dix’s work.

The promise of Early 20th century spiritual trans-formative impulses, though devastated by 2 World Wars and numerous other disasters perpetrated and perpetuated by human beings, has never-the-less survived in the seeds of that promise, which continue to sprout and grow, despite the continuation of human horrors, into the 21st Century. I bare witness to this in my life and in the lives of those I encounter who continue to strive for the spirit in the midst of grief and suffering, preparing the way for joy and wisdom.

 

 

The Art Section Newsletter

I just received the most recent issue of theNewsletterheadproduced in the USA by David Adams. I was struck once again by the diversity of what each issue contains and heartened by what seems to be an increased inclusiveness among practitioners and participants influenced by Anthroposophy in the Arts.

PDFs of most back issues can be found posted on the website of the Visual Arts Section in North American:  http://northamericanartsection.blogspot.com/

Here are some Specific images from the most recent issue, both from an article discussing “Anthroposphical Art” by Reinhold Fäth entitled:  From: The Aenigma Constellation -One Hundred Years of Anthroposophical Art.

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Adelheid Petersen It Is Speaking out of Three Black Circles 1913 gouache, watercolor on paper 33.6 x 41.5 cm, Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach

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Hilma af Klimt Dove No. 2, Group IC, Series UW 1915 oil on canvas 151 x 152 cm, Hilma af Klimt Foundation, Stockholm

For a subscription to The Art Section Newsletter, Click this Link:

ASNL SubscrpsLetr Dec15

Free Columbia Fund Raising Campaign

Free Columbia is asking for this year’s support funding. You may follow the links on their web site to Contribute. I am also sure they will take donations year round:

 https://dana.io/free-columbia

From their website:

“Free Columbia is a six month full-time course exploring art, nature study, and social change in relation to the spiritual aspects of the human being and the world. And not only that! We also offer short courses, conferences, and events throughout the year, as well as courses for disabled adults, classes in prison, and an after-school program for kids. For the last 5 years we’ve been ACCESSIBLE TO ALL (funded 100% by gifts with no set tuitions or materials costs) but we’ve always had to fundraise as we went. Now we’re fundraising all of next year in order to become PAY-IT-FORWARD. In this way, new students will experience the course completely as a gift, and then can give and help fundraise for future students… Donate today!”

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