Artist's reflection

It is the sheer physical elements of wood that motivates my artistic expression. Wood sculpting and carving have always been the primary way I articulate the essential aspects of my subject's being- that is to say its living, moving self, captured in wood.

Wounds of My Brother

Wood: very old ash tree three-branch section (started carving 11/09 completed 11/10)
Final carved dimensions: 3 '4" H x 26' D x 24" W

My concept for Wounds of My Brother (2010) was to reveal two men in an "embrace of letting go." The natural flaws in the wood (checks, knots, color variation from diseased wood) play a most significant role as I incorporate these flaws to represent powerful wounds shared by the figures: a disfiguring gash in the man's wrist and arm; a "tear" running down the older man's eye; a knot in the youth's gut. This has been the most challenging sculpture in all my carving years. My muse directs my chisel, working my thoughts and feelings into wood that is limited in dimensions and temperamental with characteristic flaws inherent in a very old, yet lovely tree.

For the viewer, my theme is universal in that the sculpture could represent two brothers, lovers, men in war, father and son. The older man (on right) is supporting the dying younger man. In my attempt for facial characterization, the older man looks away in disappointment/discouragement at his inevitable loss. Seen from above, the young man's face is at peace.

My 2007 sculpture: Women and Children Refugees of War, (8'6" x 22" x 4") was created to raise awareness and reflect upon the world's humanitarian crises and forced displacement of refugees around the world. I wanted particularly to focus upon the struggles of women and children.

The individuals represented in Refugees are intended to symbolize cultural diversity. I have included (from the top) a child seeking nourishment; an elderly woman from Bosnia or Croatia agonizing over her lost family. The central figure depicts a woman carrying her dying child; my intention was to symbolize 'maternal perseverance.' On the left side, a woman from Somalia is comforted by her young child and directly across from her is a teen screaming in terror. While the elderly woman in the lower left bemoans the horrors of her sufferings, the boy from Bangladesh cradles his pet goat in a symbolic gesture of hope for the future of humankind.

Complimentary and a follow-up to Refugees is my sculpture, Hope. Carved from a birch log, the woman represents our world's multi-ethnicity while capturing the sense of hope in the woman's face and hands.

On permanent display is my large tree sculpture known as Eco-log. Located at the entrance (and new courtyard) of the Pelham School in Pelham, Massachusetts, I completed this sculpture in 1994. The ten and a half foot high tree carving depicts 40 animals including humans from four major biomes of the earth: polar, temperate, rainforest and desert. This is an educational piece in which teachers at the school share with their students the experience of identifying various animal species represented within the sculpture.

My most recent sculptures involve the exploration of another form of wood: paper. I create distinct life-size bird species constructed entirely out of various types of Asian plant fiber papers and clay-glue mixture. It's been a highly experimental form of art and I have gone through many trials and errors to understand the nature of "rice" papers. The multitude of weights and textures of these special papers enable me to 'feathering' my designs. Individually cut and applied feathers make each bird unique. The bird sculptures are finished with iridescent acrylic paints to capture the unique feather coloration representative of its species. Finally, they are mounted on branches and stones I have collected from my nature explorations. I have recently started to work in this unique rice paper method exploring butterfly species from around the world. It is my life-long research and love of wildlife that allows me to express this new form of art.

My sculptures have been commissioned and reside in private and public collections. Exhibitions of my sculptures include the National Sculpture Society in New York City, N. Y.; University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; Hampshire College, Amherst; Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst; Lovell Hall Interiors, Portland, ME; Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, MA; U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Hadley, MA; Food for Thought Books, Amherst; Amherst Cinema and Arts Center; as well as at public and private schools.

Thank you for visiting my website.

Holland Hoagland
Commissions welcomed.