Latent

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Often, the most exciting pieces I make happen when collectors say: “What do you really want to do next?”

This can be intimidating since you are being put on the spot and there is pressure to have an idea immediately.

Luckily for me, my work takes so long that I will literally never catch up with the running and ever changing list of potential artworks in my head.

Also, one of my favorite things about visual art is that it speaks without words, however sometimes you do need to be able to articulate an idea before actually making it. In this case I was very fortunate that they were interested in seeing my vision. Thanks, T & L.

photography: Geoff T. Graham

 

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Latent, marble, 4 x 16 x 14 in.

Skilled Artisans: Expert craftspeople create beautiful and functional objects

Beyond, Alaska Airlines Magazine
July 1, 2016
By Lora Shinn

Sebastian Martorana straddles the line between art and craft, utility and beauty. At age 21 he apprenticed with a company outside of in Washington, D.C., as an undergraduate student, under the lead of Tim Johnston. In addition to learning to carve, he polished stone, made granite counter tops, benches and bathtub surrounds. “It was the wax-on, wax-off school of learning,” he says, indicating that he honed his craft through work . . .

Follow this link to read the full article in Alaska Airlines Magazine, Beyond (page 73).

More New Construction . . .

New Construction, marble, 8 x 46 x 14 in.

New Construction, marble, 8 x 46 x 14 in.

Ever since I showed the first New Construction piece (the cinder block), people have been telling me: “You should carve a brick! You should carve a brick!”

People are always telling me what I should carve and sometimes they are right. But in this case, honestly–that didn’t sound very interesting. Conceptually it made sense; bricks are another modern material being used to replace what once would have been marble. I am always saddened when I see a set of bricks slapped up where stone steps once existed stoops (particularly those new smooth and perfect bricks that lack any of the charm of the aged and irregular bricks that new-old-homeowners are always exposing). And, more often than not, the bricks aren’t even laid well! And, one or two steps on the outer edges are usually missing or have been re-set at one time or another.

Yet still, “a brick” was still not interesting enough to compel me to just carve one out of stone . . .  Then I remembered something that one of my grad school professors, Ming Fay, said during a group crit: “If you are going to do something simple — do a lot of it.”

It then occurred to me that unlike a cinder block, a single brick is not very structurally or sculpturally dynamic, but like a cinder block they are meant to be used in concert. So I decided to just illustrate the thing that I was hoping to speak against: a step made of bricks that was once a step of marble.

New Construction, marble, 8 x 46 x 14 in.

New Construction, marble, 8 x 46 x 14 in.

This proved to be quite a challenge. On one hand this is one of the rawest sculptures that I’ve ever done; the broken edge and the un-finished, roughly tooled interior sides were left un-re-carved. On the other hand, because I was trying to represent a series of nearly perfect and identical objects assembled together imperfectly, the piece was extremely technically demanding. I spent a lot of time removing very small amounts of stone to make sure that right angles were actually right angles. Add to that the fact that this particular stone had a wide vein of some of the hardest minerals present in nature.

It would have actually been far easier to carve a series of bricks that were aligned perfectly rather than a series of bricks that are slightly out of kilter. This is definitely the kind of piece that owes credit to my trainers at Manassas Granite & Marble, Inc. who, during my apprenticeship, instilled the technical skills and discipline of the craft of carving that now allow me the ability to make this kind of sculptural work.

So while one carved brick would probably be pretty lame — I’m hoping that twenty-six carved bricks are not.

 

New Construction, marble, 8 x 46 x 14 in.

New Construction, marble, 8 x 46 x 14 in.

Piggy

Piggy, marble and found objects, 8 x 8 x 8 in

Piggy, marble and found objects, 8 x 8 x 8 in

This second “Birthstone” is based on the beloved former toy of a couple’s small child.

The original “Piggy” was literally loved-to-death. The little tike pulled on Piggy’s music string so many times that the once cheerful tune morphed into a kind of “funeral dirge,” according to her father. Since the original Piggy had been replaced with a new Piggy, this allowed me the opportunity to not only make a sculpture based on an object with personal significance, but one that actually incorporated artifacts from that object.

This piece presented a lot of structural and aesthetic challenges.

The chance to make a stone sculpture that didn’t just toy with the concept of the base, but which completely removed it, was just too good to pass up. So while the process took far longer than anticipated, it is always pretty cool to do something experimental. Any time spent developing new methods and techniques is always well worth it.

 

Piggy, marble and found objects, 8 x 8 x 8 in

Piggy, marble and found objects, 8 x 8 x 8 in

A Birthstone

Little Lamb, marble, 9 x 8 x 16 in.

Little Lamb, marble, 9 x 8 x 16 in.

Through my personal and professional work as a stone carver I have spent quite a lot of time working on and ruminating over the concepts of memory, memorialization, loss, death and remembrance. If these subjects seem dour to you — I agree.

In anticipation of the birth of our first child I have, of course, been thinking more about the beginning of life rather than its end. Believe me, it’s less depressing. This thinking led me to question why we spent so much time and money making memorials about the cessation of life, rather than it’s beginning. Why not make memorials and artwork to our excitement about a life just beginning, as opposed to a life just ending?

The Little Lamb is the result of my excitement about the birth of our first child and my absolute inability to think about anything else in my studio.

Little Lamb, marble, 9 x 8 x 16 in.

Little Lamb, marble, 9 x 8 x 16 in.

The subject is taken from the very first and only stuffed animal that we bought during those early days of pregnancy. A time when we were equal parts excited about what we hoped was coming and trepidatious about whether or not things would all stay put and develop as expected. At this time, when we, of course, did not yet know the gender of our future child, I found myself unable to truly conceptualize our child as a human.

Many parents find it more comforting to picture their “it” as a more visually and psychologically pleasing little object or animal. Via this act of reverse-anthropomorphism, these little fetuses garner nicknames (which often carry into infancy) such as Little: Moose, Lion, Sweet Pea, Bean, Peanut, Gummie Bear, Dragon — or in our case — Lamb.

Though I do find the concept and act of memorializing and paying homage to those whom we have lost an important and solemn duty, I can surely say that it is far more uplifting to carve a Birth-stone rather than a Tomb-stone.

 

Little Lamb, marble, 9 x 8 x 16 in.

Little Lamb, marble, 9 x 8 x 16 in.