“Art is something you DO about something that interests, worries, or pleases you.” That statement, coming from Edmund Burke Feldman’s BECOMING HUMAN THROUGH ART, sheds more light on my artistic practice than any original statement I could compose. That, and the inspiration of the materials that seem to find their way to me, drives my need to create. These amazing things—distressed, discarded—they have already had a life of their own before I encounter them. Reclaimed, repurposed—I try to rearrange them into a story-telling narrative, similar to the process used by children in their art-making. Like the young students who filled my classroom for more than 40 years, I’m more interested in crafting unique objects than in reproducing natural form.

Because we are created in the image of our Creator, I believe we are not complete unless we, too, engage in the act of creation. Thus I feel called to act in creating illustrations for stories of wisdom, evil and folly. Through the human comedies and dramas (without and within), through Holy Scriptures, through meditation and visions, so much potential narrative material surrounds me I often feel frustrated by a lack of time and skill to put it all to use in designing pieces of visual art.

Technically, it’s very gratifying to realize I’m still using skills developed early in my life as an artist—even going back to my childhood when my art-making was fueled by the unlimited scrap material available to me, and nearly endless encouragement from my parents. Mother loved everything I made. Dad was always there to improve my craftsmanship with suggestions, a better choice of tools and better ways to apply my efforts. Frequently, taking an object apart would be more informative than putting one together. The Grand Rapids area provides some exceptionally fine “ hunting and gathering” for materials. I like to think I have a chance to get my eyes and hands into nearly a quarter-million attics, garages and basements. With basic knowledge of fiber arts, collage, painting, metal- and wood-working, I feel free to follow almost any path my mind wanders onto in the construction of my sculptures.

H.J. Slider