Friday, October 23, 2009

Where does it come from?

Strong talent brings with it both wonder and suspicion. What is the origin of such skill? How does one create it? In what balance is it learned, practiced, or developed? Does everyone have a gift that lies dormant until it is accidentally exposed? Do we all have within us the possibility of genius? Is it only a matter of discovering the appropriate medium that will permit the unknown genius to be excavated, transferred and recognized?

These are questions we’re left pondering in the midst of a long overdue visit from Steven’s parents. Though Steven and I may struggle to balance everyday realities with the fact that we do somehow manage to build huge monuments, there is nothing more certain to bring humility and surefootedness than the presence of those who knew you when you were young. If they happen to be of Scottish and Yorkshire decent – all the better.

Both of Steven’s parents have a true and perfectly uncomplicated love for him. Speaking with them you have the impression that anything from accountancy to car repair would have been a perfectly acceptable career path for their son and only child. As it is they seem a bit non-pulsed by the path he seems to have fallen into. While they are without question proud, their clear headed assumption and stoically tempered praise actively prevent any temptation to place too much stock in our own hype.

During their last visit, they were visiting the studio when two of Steven’s more substantial collectors stopped by to check on the progress of a piece they had commissioned. When I introduced them to Steven’s parents, they were thrilled to meet the people responsible for the artist. The wife of the couple asked Steven’s mother with great reverence: “Did he always show such remarkable talent?” His mom replied quite quickly and firmly, “goodness no.”

The collector then asked, “Where you very surprised when he managed to create such wonderful work?” With the kind of faith that reminds you why its family you call for both celebration and sympathy, his mom said, “no, I wasn’t. He was always good with his hands.”

Steven’s talent is a mysterious blend of innate skill, teaching, and miracle, but there’s no question he is who he is today, sculptor or not, because of the remarkable individuals who are his parents.

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