Give Karen Brodie a stone and suddenly she starts to see images in the rock. Human or animal shapes start to form. Slowly, she starts to cut away until the image becomes a reality.
The Canadian sculptor is coming to ARTworks to teach a class March 16. Like her, students will start with a stone -- the malleable soapstone, in fact -- and carve it into what they wish.
Brodie, who vacationed frequently with her family to the Lowcountry, explains how rock becomes art.
Question. What can students expect in the class?
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Answer. What I like to say is that stone sculpture is reduction thinking. You're taking away. It's not adding. Your brain is working in reverse. If you're doing something like pottery, you're building up. ... What I find fascinating is that you can give 10 people a similar piece of stone, and they can come up with 10 different things. In the class, they all will start with a small stone. Because it's small, it's less intimidating. By the end of the class, they'll have their own sculpture.
Q. In this class, you're using soapstone. Is soapstone easy to work with?
A. In reducing it, yes. It's very soft. It's very nice to work with. It can be brittle. But it's very good to learn on.
Q. When you start a piece, do you have to know exactly where you are going with it? Is stone carving very forgiving?
A. I'm a direct carver. I have an idea in my head. I see a rock and sometimes something just jumps out. I tend to see a lot in the stone. Like my piece called "Original Sin," it's a coiled snake over a red apple. The apple is actually a red stone. I saw an apple when I saw the stone.
I draw on the rock with a marker to guide me. So that means you're constantly flipping and drawing on the rock. It may sound weird but the rock tells you what you can and cannot do -- that if you keep going, the rock will break. Then you have to find a better path to take.
Q. You're a second-generation sculptor. Who came before you?
A. My mother. I picked up on it. My kids do it, but they're not that into it. That's not their passion. It is my passion, however. I live it. I love it. I go through withdrawal if I'm not teaching or creating.