Later-Life Story Figures
In the last 15 years, Daniel Mack has created a large collection of carvings to honor and reflect the emerging, changing qualities of human life. They are crones, elders, caretakers, hermits, misfits and shamans.
They start from driftwood bark collected from the Hudson River and take on form, feature, colors and bits of nature and culture. Most feature that late-life opening and power emerging from the chakra at the top of the head.
"Consider, then, Daniel Mack’s installation of detrital driftwood that suggests idols in twilight,
that one gesture or a few, marks the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary."
Faheem Haider, Chronogram, August, 2012
They began as an accident.
I had gone hunting for driftwood and could not find exactly what I wanted and somehow recognized the many pieces of bark, hiding right there in plain sight. That was in 2004. This has alerted me to the importance of Chance, Coincidence and particularly the Need to Hunt.
They have their own ways.
Sometimes they flake apart;
Sometimes the heads come off, the breasts get bigger, smaller or become one.
Sometimes they like to pair up or get in groups; Others are quite solitary. Most are kinetic—they wiggle, bob and lean. They have something to do with what Jung calls the “bush soul”
They teach me.
Because they are not much shown or sold, other rules developed:
I got to learn from them about carving and knives,
about leaving things appropriately vague and ambiguous.
I got to learn about Alchemy, and opposites-in-affinity.
I got to learn about nixies, nymphs, dryads and Baubo
I got to know more about Shadow and our many s’elfs.
I got to learn about anima -- our impersonal, amoral nature
They have something to do with the later stages of the alchemical process when the King and Queen unite; our many other s'elves who have been waiting to appear.
They are polyvalent.
They mean many things and opposite things.
They change importance.
They are totems, dolls, fetishes, memoria;
They become gifts.
They are both mirrors and windows, reflecting back what we know and feel, and helping us see into new, sometimes dark places.
Jung writes about anima:
“Everything the anima touches becomes numinous-
unconditional, dangerous, taboo, magical”
They complain when they have to go off to gallery shows.
They try to convince me there are OTHER ways and OTHER places they should be.
I recently had some in my home on their pedestals and, sure enough, they found their way into several potted plants.
Others left the Studio to live in the front yard.
There seem to be several clans
Some gang up in threes, wear adornments and whisper about each other
Others are very interested in penises
Some are just heads... bodies forgotten
Some need to resemble Tools
Some only live Outside
Others develop more Complicated Story Lines
They are "Spiritual"
"Man himself did not create the spirit, rather the spirit makes man creative, always spurring him on, giving him ideas...’enthusiasm’ and ‘inspiration.'" Carl Jung
They are representatives of the "spirit": that autonomous, active force of the unconscious that generates ideas and thoughts, inspires, invents, and arranges images. All humans, not just self-styled "artists", help materialise Spirit. They work with people on the making; they make sure the materials retain an integrity and the maker stays an apprentice. They help people understand the dangers of over-crafting.
from Curator Jackie Skryznski (2013)
"Mack’s Anima figures welcome viewers to the exhibition. Reminiscent of Antony Gormley’s Field or Ana Mendieta’s silhouettes, these small objects are fashioned from bark collected along the Hudson River. Mack finds the figure held within the bark. He sees them as having their own agency in terms of form, placement and even display. He listens, observes and then creates."
Dan's Front Yard, Studio
WHERE THEY WERE SEEN
2013 Object Orange, pop-up gallery
2012 Samuel Dorsky Museum, New Paltz, NY
2011 Americana NY Pier Show
UUCRT Gallery, Rock Tavern, NY
Collage, Warwick, NY
2010 OutsideIn, Piermont, NY, to 2013
Vastu, Warwick, NY
2009 Spirit into Matter, Warwick, NY
2008 Unison Gallery, New Paltz, NY
Kaaterskill Fine Arts, Hunter, NY
Ram Dass Library, The Omega Institute
Poet Stephanie Pope comments
Kathleen Jenk's Myth*ing Links