Measure of Duration

“In Catling’s hands, selfless receptivity is amply rewarded: The insights that can be gleaned from his dual-purpose people—which are both vehicles and vessels—set inquisitive visitors to thinking, imaginatively and fancifully yet reasonably and realistically, about our own selves as vehicles and vessels that carry us, literally, through life, but are not completely defined by such pedestrian purposes.

Catling’s wonderfully down-to-earth works expand our capacity to understand that our bodies are vehicles for understanding—not merely tools for physical transport, but occasions for journeys that take us far beyond the literal distances we actually travel, into dimensions commonly referred to as internal, subjective, poetic, existential, or spiritual. Such labels matter little to Catling, or to his unpretentious, experience-oriented works, which embrace the real gist of things, rather than the various ways such firsthand experiences get translated, categorized, turned into formulas, and, eventually, institutionalized—historically, stylistically, and conceptually.” read more…

by David Pagel

Of Times and Days

This group of ceramic sculptures is informed by the artists’ interest in reconnecting to natural life rhythms. The works reflect a seasonal way of thinking and are made in a direct association with times od day or month. The figures are designed to be symbolic of an internal journey, quietly impacting the space around them or the viewer who comes close. The figures have a rough textured surface, inspired by natural rock and earthen formations.

The condition of the figures lend themselves to the viewer’s engaging in the process of “reconnection” by joining in the natural transcendent element of the work. The figures lead the viewer into the possibility of the invisible world and spiritual uplift within various stages of contemplation. They reflect a way of living within actual moments of life: the day, the month and time of year.

The work projects an ancient connection of humanity’s need: an internal search for meaning. It raises consciousness above the distractions of the contemporary and engages deeply with the reality of the natural world.

Mythos of Being

“When Iron John had reached the dark forest once more, he took the boy from his shoulders and put him down on the earth. The Wild Man then prepared a bed of moss for boy to sleep on, and in the morning took him to a spring. It was clear as crystal and full of light.”
Iron John

These works of art come from many years of thinking deeply about the stories that shape our beliefs. For most of human history, there have been myths and tales that societies have used to inform the next generation about life and its complexities. These hearth tales or myths or parables provide ways of thinking and understanding. The stars have been charted and identified to fit religious and communal understandings. The constellations have served as guides for travelers at sea and on land, as well as icons for legends and mythologies.

The search for who we are does not sit well in the present vacuum of much of contemporary thought. This rootless, context free identifying leaves many with a strong sense that something is missing. The stories that have been gifted to us from across time and place provide much to help us counter that sense of loss with ideas and concepts rich in meaning. The works in this series reflect upon how some of these stories reverberate through my soul and find their way into clay and wood and image and twine. So I offer these works to you to think about, to contemplate, to consider what stories do you need to read, to live, to revive.

June 2010

Another Realm

This body of work comes from intuitive connections to the invisible, ongoing consciousness that links humanity across time and distance. The figures are created to emit an archaic sensibility, a strong connection of the past to the present. The wings engage the idea that flight is symbolic for spiritual wholeness or escape from suffering.  It is as if these figures occupy another realm, one that we cannot experience physically but the knowledge of it permeates our lives.
The work addresses the loss of our natural sense of being human, that is our deeply innate sense of ourselves. We have become disconnected from the natural rhythms of life. These figures are about the continued rediscovery of the true human condition that resides deep within us. The ideas do not eliminate the body’s suffering but presents it as a condition for spiritual uplift.
It is the intent of the work to project an ancient oneness of humanity’s need for the internal search for wholeness and meaning. The art is an attempt to raise our consciousness above the distracted, destructive and unaware content of much of contemporary life, to an upward and inward journey of spiritual transcendent experience, through the elementary order of the human figure.

William Catling

April 2009