In the last few weeks I have felt the urge to expand my portfolio to include reliefs. This came about after talking with someone in the cemetery business who was saying that the popular way to memorialize someone is laser etching, not the traditional sculpted relief which has been around since forever. Laser etching is a process that takes an existing photograph and etches in exact detail onto a black granite headstone. In my opinion, it is cheap and unattractive and very representative of technology that cannot replicate what the human hand achieves-beauty. As much sophistication as our technology is, it still fails to prove to me and many others that it is has the ability to match the human touch. Of course, it is incredibly popular and it seems that every headstone that has some design on it has a laser etched image of the deceased. The problem that I see is that every single headstone is starting to look the same. Black granite with a highly rendered image. The other stones are not being used because black granite allows for the necessary contrast between the polished black surface and the etched part which is much lighter. The other stones would produce little or no contrast so they are not being used. So in a sense all of these headstones are looking the same. What I am hoping for in the future is for people to start to recognize that traditionally carved monuments or bronze plaques that are hand sculpted become more appreciated as they provide more options than what our technology can currently produce. Lets say that someone wants a portrait, but not flat, but slightly raised. Perhaps they want it raised another one inch. Perhaps they want a high relief. These are options a highly trained artisan can create, not a machine. It means that someone can have black granite or white marble. It will mean more cemeteries will have unique headstones and statues made of bronze and stone and will be beautiful as they once were before technology made them all ugly and monotonous.
So for the last few weeks I have been spending some time doing reliefs. I have done, to date, 6 of them and I have been very excited at each of them. I’ve casted a few in plaster and polished. Here is the last one I did, it is 12″x12″ and shown in clay. It is actually not round, but square and I used photoshop to make it round so I’m not all against technology.