James Surls – “Man and Nature”
His thinking is that Art is something that should be shared, that it is a vehicle for creating community
James Surls’ body of work has been termed as organic, primal, pure form, and unpolished beauty. I would describe it as boundless and surreal. I have had the opportunity to tour his studio in Missouri Heights just outside of Carbondale on a couple of occasions. Every opportunity I get to experience his magnificent sculptures and drawings I find myself awestruck. The sheer size, space, and form engage my senses to the core. Friday night was no different. The Roaring Fork Cultural Council hosted an evening in which Mr. Surls shared the story of the “Man and Nature” behind the genius artwork. James Surls is a world renowned artist with collections on display in the Smithsonian, the Guggenheim, and along Fifth Avenue in New York City. There is a palpable duality in many of Surls’ works. He spoke of the beauty of the feminine vessel as contrasted with the sharp, raw masculine edge and the rough hewn wood opposing the smooth, flowing metal. James declares without hesitation that the most significant influence in both his art and his life is his wife, and muse, Charmaine. The “Big Thicket” piney woods of east Texas, where James spent his formative years and early career, continue to shape his work. Nature, through its creation and destruction are apparent in many pieces. He frequently uses discarded, once thought useless, materials including twisted tree trunks uprooted by hurricanes. He sculpts them back into something beautiful and worthwhile with vision and Love. Those of us who are living a life in Recovery have also been transformed from unlovable, fragmented, irreparable beings into something new and hopeful, with something to give back.