Janice Tabin

While Cavities has many stories to it, its a double entendrĂ© at its core. The name "Cavities" refers to both the polished indentations that travel around the rock, and the carving of a human's bottom jaw on the other side. The sculpture also features an array of scratches of different depths, expressing the frustrations of artist's block and possibly having a cavity. 

The glossiness of the craters in contrast to the roughness of the scratches invites people to touch the rock, but the underbelly was left rocky so that more carvings are not expected and the mouth comes as a surprise when their hands arrive at the end of the smooth path.

The creation of Cavities was a spontaneous process, with the rock itself shaping the direction of the piece. No power tools were used, which slowed the process but allowed an intimacy between sculptor and sculpture and an organic nuance that would otherwise be lost. An additional challenge arose in working entirely by hand as some of the tools would typically be attached to a power tool, and used independently for long periods of time would hurt the sculptor's hands. Therefore it became necessary to sculpt custom handles out of wood to make the bits easier to work with.

The first rock I was drawn to gave me a very embryonic feeling, it was light-colored and egg-shaped, and it fit in my hand in a way that made my relationship with it feel very nurturing. I had a very strong bond with it, so I was excited to see how I could develop it further. But the material was high enough on the Mohs Scale of Hardness that it was very hard to work with. So I chose this rock. It is a soapstone, a 2.5 out of 10, which is much softer than my original rock, a 7. 

Being new to sculpting rocks, I started by deepening the natural crevices of my rock, and it responded by growing a tongue. I felt like a dentist from tools I used and the protection I wore, so I added a row of teeth. After I finished the mouth I lost my inspiration, I tried to add more human traits like ears and eyes but the rock didn't like that, so in the frustration of artist's block I attacked the rock with my tools until it had a mitten of scars on it. From there I followed the natural flow and dips of the rock to create a large number of craters across it that branched out from each other, creating a path, and proceeded by polishing it to give it a contrast from the jaggedness of it's surrounding faces. 

My intention for this piece is for the mouth to be a surprise, so I kept those areas natural and displayed it with the mouth facing down so people would have to interact with the piece to discover it's more humorous twist. 

This studio reinstated my confidence in working by hand. The mentality at this school is that power tools are always the most efficient way to make something, but that is not necessarily the case. For me, at least, working by hand allows a more intimate relationship with the material, resulting in more precise sculpting and an organic feeling in the final product.