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Sisyphean Circle Series

My on going Sisyphean Circle Series draws parallels between the Greek mythological character and the plight of the artist. Because of his transgressions Sisyphus was banished to Hades and forced to perpetually roll a large stone up a steep hill, only to have it tumble back after reaching the top. His toil lasts all eternity and can be seen as a metaphor for the creative process and especially applicable to an artist like me who uses stone as a primary material - in fact one important aspect of the series is that they are in part self portraits.


Like Sisyphus, I am continually and literally pushing stones around the studio. I am also figuratively pushing them to a creative peak and once at the “top” and the sculpture is “finished”, like most artists I am compelled to start again at the “bottom” on the next piece. The cycle is unending.


However viewing the creative process simply as “endless toil” is undeniably negative and I prefer to view the myth and metaphor through the lens of French existentialist Albert Camus. In his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, he points out that the idea of reaching ones final destination is not always the most important. In fact if one "reconsiders Sisyphus" as Camus suggests, the struggle or journey reveals itself as ultimately the most meaningful. As in life, this notion is at the core of the creative process where the act of making triumphs over the object or final product.

John Van Alstine