“No Ivory Tower Retreat”
John Weaver, sculptor LL.D.
Tapping the great wealth of North American cultures, sculptor John Weaver has brought international acclaim to his well-schooled expression in art. His works capture the beauty of movement in exactingly authentic historical and scientific detail and presentation. This unique career is motivated by an approach to art that clearly is not one of isolation. His philosophy is direct and professional, as the following quotation demonstrates:
“I was trained in my early years by my father, John Bruce Weaver, a painter, sculptor, and teacher. This experience along with later study with Albin Polasek and Emil Zettler, as well as work with scientists of the Smithsonian Institution have made me thing of art as a way of life, a profession which should serve people, not as an ivory tower retreat of self fulfillment in which the artist himself and his identifying style is more important than the requirements of a job. I believe that art as a creative, imaginative means of communication should be in an understandable form. Without understanding there is no communication. To do work of beauty which has meaning to people results in an art, which is not concerned with the vogue or style of the day. I feel that art, to be truly timeless, should rely on quality workmanship and basic aesthetic principles. Perhaps then it can stand with the art of any period.”
As a master of his art, he is indeed aware of the importance of basic aesthetic principles. He explains:
“ Art can be discussed in a simple straightforward way: there is good art and bad art, and both good art and bad art can be found in realism, abstraction, and all styles of art in between. When we set up criteria for art it must apply universally – to all the arts and to man, he. Two elements dominate any discussion of aesthetics: unity (theme) and variation (movement). These elements apply to music, literature, dance, painting, sculpture, and human personality. They apply not because we need rules to play the game, nor because their great antiquity gives them clout. They apply because the human brain – which is served by the five senses – demands it. If we were producing art to be appreciated by computers the rules may be different. The human brain can successfully think of one thing at a time; so, it demands unity. The brain will fall asleep if it is bored; so, it demands variation. If we think of the principles in relation to human personality they are most easily understood. We desire a person to be consistent, and we feel so strongly about this that we consider a person with more than one personality to be mentally ill. Within the consistency we like a person of varied background able to deal with many subjects. A major social sin is to be a bore. Ignore double talk that will confuse the situation, implying that only the Chosen Few can comprehend. Ignore any criticism that does not somehow relate to unity or variation.
In recent years the most common weakness in art is a lack of variation. The eye creates a picture in the brain by moving from point to point. It must be lead over the surface of a work of art in a way calculated to give pleasure and emphasis where desired. Movement in sound is equally necessary. One note sustained an unbroken will create agitation and, ultimately, madness. There must be a pattern of movement from note to note to create a felling of pleasure. The sense of touch, which – along with vision – relates to sculpture is dependent on movement. If you rest your fingers on an object you feel it for only a few seconds and then the brain turns off the signal. You must keep your hand in motion if you wish to continue to feel the surface. Art must move to live.
In the brain there is an element at work that may relate to the homing instinct: simply, nostalgia. It is the element that is behind the desire to actually own a work of art. Each of us has very strong personal ties to certain visual images, sound patterns or smells that relate to our early childhood, or perhaps a later period in our life that we like to recall when we felt secure as part of a group. These things become a part of our personal identity.
Many choices that people make vocally or through purchases of art have no relation to their natural inclinations. People may say or do things that are calculated specifically to complement what their peers might find acceptable. If a person wishes to appear modern, progressive-minded, or intellectual, he must look for the newest approach in art. This places art on an ever-accelerating treadmill with no criteria but inventiveness. What was modern yesterday is old fashioned today, so the vogue in art must change as rapidly as the styles in clothing. This is a very good deal for an art establishment. New art must continue to be acquired as yesterday’s new passes from favour. An additional advantage is that the product can be made by unskilled labour. The obsolescence built into the system is much less than a good deal for the public that must somehow support this arrangement.”
Mr. Weaver adds: “A degree of representationalism is more natural to visual art, and abstraction more natural to music, but this is only a personal preference. Abstract forms can be exciting, harmonious, and can demonstrate emotional power. I compose work in such a way that the abstract movement of the work combines with representational forms to tell the same story that the subject matter relates.”