“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”
Water media, gesso, varnish on paper, mounted on canvas
Read poem by clicking here.
TS: Interesting question. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t think of myself as an artist. Even back when I was a kid, the world fascinated me. The sun through the clouds, dust motes, the rainbow in each drop of dew. Even the pattern of what my Mother called her horrible age spots. It all was just so compelling and beautiful to me. I wanted to connect with that. Still do.
CQ: And can you describe how you made that connection?
TS: Oh, I collected things, and drew. I read a lot, and developed scenes in my head that fleshed out the words. And I spent a lot of time wandering about. We lived in a subdivision that used to be a plantation – I could literally graze my all the way to the river during the summer.
CQ: So in the painting, “My Shadow” – is the image of the boy a self-portrait?
TS: I think almost everything I do is a self-portrait on some level. Actually, I spend a lot of energy tracing back to those things that impacted me as a child. This is an appropriated image from an illustration by Jessie Wilcox Smith. It was in one of my favorite books – "A Child’s Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson. My Great Aunt Irma Hochstein gave it to me. She was one of the first people to encourage me as an artist. This particular image was illustrating the poem "My Shadow".
CQ: So why choose this for this painting?
TS: Yeah, well I’d come to the conclusion, after a lot of studying, that Stevenson had a world-view agenda and hid a lot of meaning in his children’s poems. There’s a phrase about the child’s shadow – “what can be the use of it is more than I can see.”
CQ: You literally painted those words along the bottom.
TS: Using the image of Polaroid’s, which was the way special moments were documented back in the day. Watching the image come forward. It was magic in my eyes.
CG: And the shadow?
TS: A reminder that our shadows are very important to us and have great use. Think of what Peter Pan had to go through to reclaim his.
CQ: And almost as an afterthought there seems to be another Polaroid image tacked on to the surface of the picture plane. We have included that as a detail. Can you speak to that?
TS: I make a lot of associations. And recognize patterns. Must be part of my wiring. The Abu Ghraib torture scandal had been all over the news – here again I was being inundated with images. And I felt like one person in particular. Lyndie England. I felt like she was held to support The Shadow side of the whole affair. So that was a type of sacrifice going on (on) a lot of levels. Something just clicked and I remembered the iconic image of the little naked Vietnamese girl running from a Napalm attack. And I linked them in a photograph type image to make sort of my own proof of the occurrences.
CQ: Is that Revisionist History?
TS: More like Connect the Dots.
CQ: And can you share with us how you see this painting relating to the text (editors note: in reference to "The Sacrifice of Isaac")?
TS: Well I have this Bible. I call it the Tommy Schulz bible cause it was given to me by my Grandmother in 1962, and that was the inscription. I’m amazed at how those illustrations stocked the shelves of my visual library and my sort of kid theology. Thought the story of Abraham was like the kind of Faith I should aspire to. Even named my son Isaac. But as I decided to develop a conscious adult Theology and intentional spiritual practices, I came to question my relationship to the story. Like I did with the Stevenson poems. So that thread runs through the whole fabric of my interests. I think of the process as an ideological death and resurrection. CQ: So do you consider yourself a maker of Religious Art?
TS: The same thing that motivated me as a kid? Still resonates. When I am at work, making things? I’m chatting it up with God. That doesn’t sound real religious to me. In the way that, you know, I think of capital “R” Religion. But I’ve embraced personal icons. So maybe it’s all the same.
All work by Tom Schulz, unless otherwise noted.
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