Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The first thing you should do is check out Kurt Steger’s pronounced “Stager”) website. If you have any doubts about his talent or the authenticity of his approach that should settle it.
It might very well be that he could mass produce pieces of art with his look and style. The fact is that he doesn’t.
He sequesters himself away on his mountaintop retreat, living in a small (I mean small trailer--maybe 300 square feet?) and living with his work.
He “watches” pieces of wood in their natural setting for years. Pulls them to the front of his work shop and “sits” with them (not literally) for sometimes months, until they tell him what it should look like as a finished product.
“What I want to point out is that we are always in connection with nature. Man and nature are always coming up against each other. Whether we are in the woods or in NYC we are always on that edge of meeting nature,” he said.
If you look at his work in any detail, you’ll see that he focuses on that place where man and nature meet. He is obsessed with it.
Think about how his approach to what he does compares to yours. Let me tell you that in my section of Roanoke County suburbia which I affectionately call cul de sac corner, we do not sit around and look at pieces of branch or roots until they “tell us what to do.”
Nor would we take one another seriously if we did. We are too busy running to soccer games and driving mini vans. Yet, after half a day with Kurt, who has forsaken family life to live a hermit-like existence, you understand that he is legit. He needs that time to:
a. think about the work
b. complete the work.
He simply is not willing to compromise. He wants to be able to kick off his shoes (“I prefer to work barefoot.”) and work to the wee hours of the morning if the mood strikes him, or in some cases, if he is driven by the passion to see a work manifest itself.
We went there to do a story on the Burden Boat Project, which in fact we did. But I am most pleased to have had the chance to meet Kurt, to see how he thinks and to realize that he is what he says he is.
The Burden Boat Project will appear at the Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts, as part of a show entitled, The 9/11 Arts Project. Healing 10 Years Later.
From the Smith Farm website: At the core of our work is the belief that each of us harbors enormous powers of healing within. We also recognize that there are both new and time-tested techniques to enhance health and well-being- even in the midst of crisis. Our integrated approach of stress reduction and inner quiet, art-making and telling your story, supportive listening and loving community, healthy lifestyle choices and state-of-the-art medical care can birth simple yet profound changes that radically transform the experience of illness.
The show runs from August 22 -- September 30, 2011. During that time visitors will be asked to write down their burdens on a piece of rice paper. When the show closes there will be a ceremony only this time Kurt will use water instead of the traditional fire. "Fire is too closely associated with the tragedy," he said. The water will destroy the rice paper and with it, the burdens written there.