Monday, February 7, 2011

The Creative Word

The Clay Tablet Series: "Creative Word #4"
2010, Mixed Media: Clay, Gel, Pigments, Acrylics, 15"x17"x2"
Artist: Anthony Vodraska

As an artist, two aspects of the Creative Word of God have always intrigued me.  First, that the Creative Word brought all of creation into being and remains the underlying animating force that sustains, renews and governs all that was, is or will ever be.  Second, whether through successive Manifestations of God progressively revealing His Teachings across the ages, countless gifted souls sharing their experience of the transcendent, or the efforts of each person striving to make choices that express the divine in everyday life, our understanding of the Creative Word is being continuously transformed.
The artifacts of human history document the efforts of embodied souls using objects, images, symbols, language and actions to bring us closer to understanding and experiencing the transcendent.  I use seemingly indecipherable symbols and marks that have a rather personal intuitive meaning or expression to represent the Creative Word.  I have used these symbols and marks to create ceremonial clay sculptural objects that could have been artifacts unearthed from some lost civilization.  Though the symbols and scripts may no longer be understood, their use convey a story of the connection between those people and the transcendent. 

This interest in clay ceremonial artifacts evolved into the current Clay Tablet Series.  The clay tablet is more of a clay-wrap than a flat tablet.  A thin clay slab is manipulated, folded in on itself, fired, readied for surface treatments and ultimately hung directly on a wall.  It merges my interest in carving, marking and manipulating clay with printing on acrylic gels to transfer on to 3D objects.  "Creative Word #4" also explores my interest in shadows as a metaphor.  The significance of shadows for me will be discussed in more detail in a subsequent blog in relation to another work. 

In this particular work, the left and right edges of the clay tablet have a complex texture made by impressing natural objects on wet clay.  This seemingly chaotic surface is intended to convey the complex surface appearance in nature that often conceals the hidden structure underlying nature.
Behind the shadow image are indecipherable symbols impressed into clay that represent the hidden Creative Word which is both the animating force and underlying structure of the physical world.  In this sense, the Names of God are embodied in His creation.  The symbols are barely visible when viewed straight on but become more apparent when viewing the work obliquely suggesting that an inner spiritual vision is needed to pierce the veils and see the true nature of the world around us.  The shadow image is a pigment print on gel which is laminated onto clay using a gel medium.

Anthony Vodraska               

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Life's Many Changes

It has been six months since my last posting and much has happened and changed in our lives.  While our art work has been an important and constant thread throughout this period, life's other sorrows and joys have frequently needed our undivided attention.  My Mother's deteriorating health last Summer and her passing in August 2010  weighed heavily on us.  We are grateful that we were able to return to the Midwest in 2007 after many years overseas in order to spend these last three years with her and my siblings.  May her spirit enjoy a myriad heavenly bounties, joyful reunion with family members that have gone before her and an enduring peace in God's loving and compassionate embrace.  

In September and October we took a two month road trip to the East Coast to visit our family.  Our oldest daughter and husband living in the metro DC area were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Olivia, in January.  Our granddaughter is an absolute joy to be around and we are counting the weeks until our next visit.  We then traveled up to Boston via the Berkshires to spend a few weeks with our youngest daughter and her fiancĂ©.  We thoroughly enjoyed helping our daughter reorganize her studio space and immersing ourselves in the Boston art scene, visiting several galleries and museums. We eventually found our way to Wisconsin to visit my brother and his fiancĂ©e.  All the while, we were treated to gorgeous fall colors.  Once home, we labored hard to finish Fall harvests and prepare our gardens and the acreage for the approaching Winter.

We both had time to reflect upon the direction of our respective art work and how that meshes with our personal and shared life goals.  With another grandchild on the way and concerns over our distance from our daughters and our advancing years, it is not surprising that life's many changes will affect our art work.  During our long road trips, we had hours of discussions on art and creativity.  We found that creativity and the creative process were central to our concerns.  We visualized a continuum between two poles: "Create to Live." and "Live to Create."  No matter where one finds oneself on this continuum at any moment in their lives, there will assuredly be opportunities, constraints and risks.  We felt that where we were along that continuum needed to change. 

When one creates to live, they seek to use their creativity to earn a living.  Certainly, a noble pursuit which benefits many and is the source of much innovation in art, science and business.  Somewhere further along the continuum a person may be content to just to earn enough from their creative endeavors to defray the costs of pursuing them.  When we returned to the Midwest, we thought that we could create works of art, first and foremost, that we enjoyed and enough would be sold to cover the costs of materials and maybe even earn some income.  In a tough economic climate and a challenging market we were devoting more energy and resources to selling the work.  Increasingly, we felt our inner compass shifting to making art work that was more appealing and affordable to fewer buyers.  

Some may dream of living to create as a pure expression of their unencumbered creative spirit.  Many artists struggle with living to create by choice or circumstance doing their art work as time permits while caring for or raising families or working in jobs that utilize little of their creative energies.  Others take pauses in the pursuit of a living wage to pursue residencies or devote themselves for a period of time exclusively to their art work.  Still others, like us, in their later years, find the means, make the hard choices, and channel their energies, resources and time to create as long as their health and time on this earth permit.         

After much discussion, we have shifted our focus further along the continuum toward "Live to Create."  I am focusing more on mixed media pieces that resonate and better convey deeply felt spiritual insights through content, materials and techniques.  Anita has paused her work in clay and has returned to exploring her artistic visions through oil painting.  For now, we are not exhibiting our work locally or regionally as we build new bodies of work.  That may change in the future once we feel our new work has matured and is ready.  You can keep track of our new work through this blog site or our new website at which is still be populated with our older work.  You can also get to our website through or  More on the website in a separate blog.

The next posting will present a recent mixed media art work that explores my interest in the Creative Word as it finds expression in nature and mankind's pursuit to understand the ineffable and the unknowable.  

Anthony Vodraska