Fran Bouwman is the artist who created the beautiful wooden sculpture displayed in front of Ted’s Range Road Diner in Meaford. The sculpture, carved out of Butternut is 23’ high and captures the vision of a little girl. I asked Fran to give me some insight into where her creative energy comes from and this is what she said…
I think it’s always been an incredible challenge for a visual artist to write an “artist’s statement”, to try and capture in a few short paragraphs what the artistic experience is and/or what the art itself represents. That being said, bear with me as I try to put into words what my art means to me and the perspective I hold that allows me to be an artist in the first place.
The idea, however cliché, that an artist cannot live without her art, holds true for me. I cannot begin to fathom my existence without the joy of creating my art, the joy of falling into the beauty of carving a collarbone, an ankle, a shoulder blade or the curl of someone’s lip. Actualizing what I have witnessed, felt or dreamed is a thrill beyond any other. It’s magic. It’s that inconceivable moment when I realize that my own two hands have created a face or figure that I’ve never seen before. I’ll never quite comprehend that transition – the terrifying and exhilarating journey I take from the time I’m faced with a new log to the actual finished sculpture. Michelangelo described it as “liberating the figure from the marble that imprisons it.” Admittedly I do not believe that I am the only one at work in my studio. I believe that something “other” is present. This “other” has been referred to as God, the collective unconscious, a Higher Being, the artistic spirit or simply one’s own muse and, I’m sure, by many other names as well.
Regardless of how one chooses to term it, I have great reverence and respect for whatever it is that works within me as an artist. Although there is this wonderful exhilaration of stepping outside of time altogether, there is also, of course, the reality of being in time, of feeling my body ache, of screaming out in frustration when things are not going well, of wondering why the heck I’ve chosen a vocation that is never predictable and which barely allows me to pay my bills. Indeed, the reality of being an artist is also riddled with anxiety and angst. Aside from physical pain and financial precariousness, there is also the momentous fear of the critic. Is the piece good enough? Is there enough social commentary? Is it comparable to my contemporaries? Is it too expensive? Or is the whole darn thing meaningless? Questions such as these can certainly plague at the even the best of times. Fortunately I’ve learned over the years to have faith – that wherever I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be for my ultimate growth. So when I ‘m having difficulty with a carving, whether I’ve miscalculated a portion of the figures anatomy or have accidentally cut out an essential piece of wood, I try to see it as a window of opportunity. It pushes me to see outside of the box, outside of my intended design. Having this perspective allows me to successfully work with pieces that normally might be considered unsalvageable. So there you have it– I sculpt because I believe in beauty and the endless potential it holds to change and inspire, for both the viewer and myself.
St. Theresa’s Prayer
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
Visit Fran Bouwman’s website at www.franny.ca to see more of her wonderful artwork.