The British sculptor, Henry Moore, stopped halfway through the first chapter of Erich Neumann’s book, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore (1959) because, as he later said, “I did not want to know about these things. . . . I did not want such aspects of my work to become henceforth self-conscious. I feel they should remain subconscious and the work should remain intuitive.”
I don’t know whether it was a sign of strength or weakness, but I was halfway through the creation of this large collage, The Marriage of Sol and Luna, before I realized what I was making might be symbolic of a lunar eclipse. Days after that I learned a lunar eclipse was soon to occur, in a rare coincidence with the day of the winter solstice. At that point I was within striking distance of finishing the work, which took me nearly a month of long days to complete. Thus it was with conscious intention that I laid down the last of what seemed like a million (probably closer to 10,000) tiny collage pieces within one hour of the occurrence of the solstice, on December 21, 2010.
The dark lines which curve throughout the piece, dividing it into many smaller sections, are in fact a single line which I made at the outset, never picking up the pen until the line, through its labyrinthine twists, turns, and undulations, was finished. I established the area of the inner white circle by tracing a 78 vinyl record. The template for the larger white circle was an enormous quilting hoop that once belonged to the grandmother of my college roommate.
In his notes for the 1937 article, “The Sculptor Speaks,” Henry Moore wrote this: “The subconscious plays a great part in art, that is to say that in conceiving & realising a work a great deal happens which cannot be logically explained–the mind jumps from one stage to another much further on without there being traceable steps shown between–preferences for one shape over another which cannot be explained–sudden solutions which cannot be followed step by step–in a word–inspiration.”
Part of the ongoing, and sometimes difficult task of the artist, is to cooperate with this process, rather than imposing one’s self in a way that occludes or subverts it.