Creating a Cross, Day 3

July 30, 2012 |

Day three of carving a crucifix. You have to look a little bit carefully to see the difference from day two. The shape everywhere has been refined a little bit, most visibly in the hands and arms, but the change is subtle. Most projects (in carving and life) go through a stage like this where nothing much visible is happening. I tend to feel lucky when things don’t in fact look worse the more I work at them.


There is an odd pattern in which the sketchy start of a project often looks exciting. Something compelling can happen with almost no effort, this gets you fired up with the potential of the project. When the next level of detail begins to go in however, everything looks awkward and out of joint; the excitement dies.  There is a temptation to give up at that point. I’ve certainly done that on occasion, memorably dousing one piece in kerosene and photographing it as it burned. Momentary discouragement is more typical. Faith here, as in the rest of life is not ‘believing what you know aint so’ as Mark Twain joked, but is based in the experience that, in spite of discouragement and lousy prospects, if you’re ready to cooperate, and keep going, magical things can sometimes happen. In art this means that confusing half formed shapes, like this emerging  crucifix, start to come together. When you are lucky at some point it all clicks and starts to make sense, you realize: this is what I was trying to do, even though I didn’t quite know it. A life takes a lot longer to assemble and the changes are harder to see, but I think this process is a good thing to be reminded of while looking at a half formed crucifix…


Anthony Santella
Anthony Santella is an artist and computer science PhD. His reclaimed wood sculptures explore world traditions of ritual woodcarving in a modern context (the sculpture on his blog graphic is a self portrait). His computer science research explores problems in image analysis, visualization and computational biology. He is a near lifelong parishioner of the Carmelite parish, St. Anastasia’s in Teaneck, NJ.
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