Greg Lookerse‘s solo exhibition, Everything is God to Me and Everything is Dust to Me, at Kingston Gallery from December 2-27, concluded his experience as the gallery’s Emerging Artist in 2015. His exhibition demonstrated a compelling balance of craftsmanship and philosophical inquiry.
Inspired by books by Annie Dillard and Teilhard de Chardin, (find details on our website), Lookerse created a space where he regularly performed a ritual of teaching a stone to talk. Within the hexagonal structure, he papered the gallery floor with pages from Dillard’s book, Teaching a Stone to Talk. The gallery lights fell upon the pages layered in a grid so precisely arranged that it precluded any question of whether, by taking the book apart and putting the pages on the floor, he may mean any disrespect. Rather, the pages suggested an invitation to read the book in an alternative way, as though we may be able to enter the space to scan the entire text at once. Over time, the pages became covered in spatters of black ink, obscuring the words and providing visual traces suggesting the many times the artist lifted the stone from where it sat in a vat of ink. He also marked each attempt to teach the stone with small ticks on a calendar.
Accompanying this arrangement was a series of altar stones (stones carved to contain a mixture of charcoal and raw honey), displayed in glass cloches. To provide further background into his thoughts, Lookerse’s artist statement is also in this post.
Ambitious, thoughtful, and talented, Greg often provided a voice of calm clarity among the membership. We wish him the very best in his promising career.
Everything is God to Me and Everything is Dust to Me
My work is always inspired by literature. As an avid reader I often find the need to explore the author’s ideas in a less narrative and more visual manner.
This series of sculptures and durational performance space form a body of work that continues my practice of contemplating literature.
Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “Everything is God to me; everything is dust to me…” in his book The Divine Miliue. As the driving concept behind this body of work the paradoxical notions of faith and doubt collide. To the devoted theologian a rock with black honey may stand for a symbol of a god’s providence, a miracle, or perhaps a god itself. To the skeptic it is just a stone with honey in it.
The most fascinating part of this dichotomy is that both views find meaning in the stones; whether because of a transcendent interpretation or because of an aesthetic transformation.
In a similar narrative, author Annie Dillard describes a man living on an island who keeps a small stone under a piece of leather on a shelf. When he is alone he performs a ritual to teach the stone to talk. In her book Teaching A Stone to Talk she reflects upon this ritual:
“I assume that like any other meaningful effort, the ritual involves sacrifice, the suppression of self-consciousness, and a certain precise tilt of the will, so that the will becomes transparent and hollow, a channel for the work. I wish him well. It is a noble work, and beats, from any angle, selling shoes.”
Perhaps materials and items hold transcendent meaning. Perhaps they are simply things human beings can mold or shape. Either way, the actions and rituals we perform with these objects changes us and our perceptions of them. The cell is ready for me to enter and the materials are waiting.
-Greg Lookerse, 2015