JOHN VAN ALSTINE - ARTIST STATEMENT
SISYPHEAN HOLIDAY series
This dynamic new series is an extension of my ongoing SISYPHEAN CIRCLE series (2005-2016) which examines parallels between the Greek mythological character Sisyphus and the plight of the artist.
As we know from mythology because of a lifetime of transgressions when Sisyphus reached the underworld he was faced with the punishment of rolling a large stone up a steep hill, only to have it tumble back after reaching the top. This toil lasts all eternity and in some ways is a perfect metaphor for the creative process and especially applicable to those, like me, that use stone as a primary material.
Viewing the creative process simply as toil or a punishment however is obviously too narrow and negative. I prefer to see it in the context presented by Albert Camus, the French existentialist, in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus. Here Camus uses the myth to illustrate the idea that reaching ones final destination is not always the most important. If one reconsiders Sisyphus as he suggests, the struggle or journey reveals itself as ultimately the most meaningful - an idea that I, and many others, believe is central to the creative process and life in general.
After completing over 100 sculptures in the original Sisyphean Circle Series, a new direction has emerged - the SISYPHEN HOLIDAY series. I present these new works in a light hearted, “tongue in cheek” way that suggests offering Sisyphus (and me) a break or “holiday”. Here the "Sisyphean stone“ is placed in a vessel form, similar to an Adirondack guide boat or canoe, giving the sculpture a playful holiday twist.
John Van Alstine