As a teenager, one Christmas, I was given by my parents, a Dover copy of Ernst Haekel’s biological Illustrations. These had a profound effect on me. I have looked for the book in more resent years but could not find it and must have given it away or misplaced it at some point.. Steiner wrote and spoke on several occasions about Haekle. (see link below for more info on this). He said that reading Hakels scientific writings was good preparation for investigations into spiritual science.
“The phrase “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866 and for many decades was accepted as natural law. Haeckel meant it in the strict sense: that an organism, in the course of its development, goes through all the stages of those forms of life from which it has evolved.”
Some of of Haekles ideas including his Biogenetic Law and especially his theories on race, have since been refuted but his Biogenetic Law was still being taught when I was in grade school. I remember that I liked the way it sounded and I never forgot it.
Even if there are flaws in Ernst Haeckel’s Biogenetic Law it seemed a usful and interesting concept, and along with illustrations I later saw of planetary evolution, paved the way for my exceptance and interest in reincarnation and Steiner’s lectures and writings on spiritual and cosmic evolution. I had to reconcile my own spiritual experiences and education in the humanities with my rational and scientific education.
I did not make the connection between Haekels wonderful illustrations and his scientific theories until much later. These illustrations alone would mark his place in history. His illustrations, popular in his lifetime, inspired Art Nouveau and , no doubt other contemporaries, artists of the 60’s and beyond:.
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.
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.
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”
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?
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.
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.
Svanen – Hilma af Klint
HILMA AF KLINT Previous Image Next Image 02 / 09 The Ten Largest, No. 3 Youth, Group IV, 1907 Hilma af Klint
I have not posted anything since last summer due to a rigorous teaching schedule in South Texas that has taken up most of my time. Finally there is a moment for including the work of Harold Christian Friedly. I have had images from Mr. Friedly for a while and wanted to include them on this site.The images below have been published in the Art section Journal about a decade ago. When I tried to get permission from him I learned of his death. If anyone knows any reason I shouldn’t include them now let me know. I met Harold Christian Friedly at the American Art Section Conference held in Denver, the summer of 2003. He befriended me there and related many interesting stories, some personal and some about Rudolph Steiner and Anthropposophy. Among other things, he introduced me to a book containing Steiner’s Caricatures. The following are from a series of paintings by Mr. Friedly entitled: Metamorphosis of a Soul.
I am sure it has been posted for a while, but I just found several Anthroposophically inspired artists, prominent in the history of 20th century art, listed at the Rudolf Steiner Archives. It is interesting to see Cy Twombly and Jackson Pollock listed. I would like to add Pousette Dart. He was one of the original Abstract Expressionists. I was fortunate to see his retrospective, just before his death, at the Columbus Museum in Columbus GA, and noticed in the exhibition literature Rudolf Steiner mentioned.
Welcome to Art and Anthroposophy. I am beginning this as an ongoing project for the purpose of presenting Anthroposophical art, Anthroposophical topics in art, and discussing, viewing, and creating art from an Anthroposophical perspective. This will include philosophical, spiritual, and material topics, with indications and examples of theory and practice, as well as images of artists’ work. I also intend to include Anthroposophical art in historical context.
One area I would like to include, that I hope will be of use, is information and resources for materials, processes, and techniques, In other words, the realm of artistic practice.
Another important intended purpose of this site is to give artists interested in the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, in art as a spiritual practice, or in art from a spiritual perspective, suggested resources and inspiration.
Relevant suggestions, links, images, and articles are welcome. Please pass this site on and consider contributing to make this site better!