Seven-year-old Willa Grace Vaughn (full disclosure: my granddaughter) sings to everything: the rocks she is painting; the dog she is carrying in both arms and the needle for making pillows for her “stuffy zoo”—each animal gets its own pillow and cardboard box. I’m her audience, but she doesn’t know I am listening.
I’m old and I don’t sing when I sculpt anymore, but I should. I guess I do sing in my head to an audience I can’t see. Always have. Some people need an audience, even an imaginary one.
Some are terrified of audience. I need one, real or imagined. It lets me be me, maybe ugly or dumb, maybe brilliant, but I need one. It seems odd for a sculptor who largely works solo. I need an audience to keep me going. I imagine success and people to notice it. I also imagine failure and the prospect of disappointing an audience. That helps me clean out the losing ideas.
Covid vaporized most of the obvious audiences. Relating to little Zoom squares makes me dizzy and distracted. Masks filter and distort human interaction, even at a “live” assembly. Cancelled sculpture shows thwarted my ability to measure an audience. Even the surviving shows with masks made it difficult to measure a successful sculpture.
Measuring success only requires looking and listening. A comedian measures laughter. No laughter, no comedy. Sculpture success is measured when a viewer stops and either says (or mouths), “Wow.” The more the better, but masks throw off your count.
So now that we are between Omicron and Spawn-of-Omicron, HOORAY. Audiences await and the road beckons. My annual May-June sculpture installation tour takes me and bride Deborah to nine states, this time crossing into Wisconsin (after vowing not to place sculpture east of the Mississippi River). Oh well. John Denver sings in my ear, “I’m going to see some friends of mine and some that I don’t know, some who aren’t familiar with my name.”
And finally, my audience awaits.
Write if you see beauty,