I work with wood, stone or concrete as a starting point for my sculptures and create metaphors for our relationship with nature. We process a raw material into a state that is useful by eliminating its variations and distinctions. This act of manipulation for the sake of utility is the essence of our connection to the natural world.
Salvaged lumber is particularly intriguing because of its history. The trees that were cut down to produce some of the timbers I use started growing hundreds of years ago and many of the buildings made from these beams stood for a century or longer. Each ring that is seen on the wood's end grain represents a year: the passage of a cycle. We feel connected to wood not only by its ubiquity in our surroundings but because its lifespan is somewhat in synch with our own.
Stone also reflects a series of cycles but on a much larger scale. The heat and pressure that transforms minerals into stone takes place over millions of years but patterns of movement reminiscent of wood grain are visible. Similar designs are seen in cloud formations. Pondering this reoccurrence in nature is a foundation of my work.
Exploring the essence of the substance I’m working with is what led me to work with concrete. I combine different pigments and aggregates to echo the formative processes found in natural materials. A thought-provoking aspect of concrete is that it’s the product of combining different elements that become stronger by being merged with one another.
My reverence for materials compels me to create simple compositions. I don't feel a need for designs that are complicated or particularly diverse. I prefer to examine the ramifications of my actions with respect to the material.
My sculptures are observations of time passing. There is a notion that time is linear: the past is somewhere behind us while the future is farther ahead. There is also a cyclical concept of time: the sunrises and sets every day, the seasons come every year. These two ideas are illustrated by making organic sculptures that are divided with rectilinear elements.
It is my hope to create sculptures that combine contrasting elements in peaceful, meditative compositions that examine our relationship with the natural world and contemplate the most perplexing of human concerns: the passage of time.
Joe Segal, 2018