Inner critic: “You shouldn’t set fire to your freshly-carved wood sculpture.”
Where’s that Tiger Torch?
I’m going to burn it. Char it to a crisp. Because that’s what it feels like.
Then, I put out the heat with the soothing coolness of water. An element I love - the healing memories of sitting next to a babbling river as the water gently flows over the polished rocks and through my soul. So very symbolic.
This is inner and outer work in progress…
A minimalist style wooden sculpture of a charred human figure. An opening on the back holds a planter pot to display a live flower or plant. Signifying what it feels like to live through the searing pain of trauma, loss, abuse, or systemic disadvantage. Regrowth arises from the ashes providing hope of healing and a new life. Despite being burnt, there is still life within, ready to rise up and bloom again. This art planter sculpture was carved from a 100+ year-old Saskatchewan spruce tree stump using chainsaw and power tools.
The Background Work
This artwork was a difficult one. One spurred by diving deep into my inner landscape to draw out the authentic art. The nitty gritty stuff. The raw and real. Where the personal becomes universal.
I spent a lot of time in preparation for this creation. Writing lists of fears, the things holding me back from making jaw-dropping art, the things I was afraid to say, the scary truths, the limiting beliefs internalized from society and other arts "professionals," the things I wanted to do with my art and hadn't allowed myself to do.
Oh, and I also had many serious conversations with my Inner Critic. Trying to turn that nasty, toxic relationship into something helpful.
And then I listed the things I love, what makes me feel really good from the inside out, and I combined them into this process. Nature. Flowers. River water. Watching the flames of a fire. Free-flowing curves and organic movement. Minimalism.
Things came up in this process. The really ugly memories I repressed for a long time. It took time to process. This project became an exercise of facing every trigger, trauma, resistance, judgment, shame, and pain that reared up along the way. And through it, something transformed.
I brought my whole self to the process, combining the good, the bad, and the ugly to create a new kind of wholeness.
Alchemy - noun
A power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.
By performing artistic alchemy, I broke through the glass ceiling of invisible limitations by breaking the "rules" of what I believed I should and should not do in my art. It's been an adventure in understanding and expressing the genuine and authentic self without filters and without worrying about what others will think.
Speaking My Truth
Through this project, I uncovered WHY I am drawn to chainsaw carving.
It’s a way to carve out my story and cut into reality. Living with the echoes of trauma, assault, victim-blaming, and infant loss make for a heavy load to survive with. Chainsaw carving is a therapeutic outlet.
It is cathartic to push my physical limits into this object, let the rage flow through the ruthless chainsaw, sweat out the emotion, and carve away the pain until my body is left utterly spent and shaking from exertion. Muscles weak and aching, but the physical pain bears nothing to the powerful emotional release and ground-breaking perspective shifts forged along the way.
Taking anger out in a destructive art form transforms the wood into something else. The painful thoughts and emotions leave my mind and body and are alchemized into something new through the sculpture process.
I embrace the power and strength of the chainsaw, thriving despite the threat of danger, and intentionally excelling in a field that’s traditionally masculine-dominated. This is my way of taking back my power, processing the pain in a tactile physical outlet, and disrupting gender stereotypes.
Chainsaw carving is my unique way of proving that:
- I AM brave, strong, and independent - I PROTECT my time and energy for meaningful purposes - I CAN do the difficult things - I HAVE THE POWER to create, express, connect, and change lives - CREATIVITY is something NO ONE CAN TAKE FROM ME - MY VALUE is worth it - I AM a kick-ass woman!
Not everyone will be able to recognize, appreciate, acknowledge, or understand this reality, and that’s okay. Let this clarify that perhaps my art isn’t meant for you.
And if this is resonating with you, if you understand where I’m coming from, if you appreciate the depths I dive into to create this art, if you sense this is so much more than “just” a carving, if you value all the creative inputs, if you SEE me for who I am, then I gratefully welcome your priceless and authentic connection. This art is meant for you.
From Ashes We Rise, 2021
30 x 21.5 x 13 inches
Wood sculpture with chainsaw and power tools, wood burning, timber oil, plant pot
Read about other meaningful art projects
View the art portfolio
Shop available items
Contact the Artist