Artist Interview - Marty Silverman

Marty Silverman Interview

 “I don’t make mistakes, I just create new opportunities” – Marty Silverman

Of all the art forms from which to choose, what is it about rock carving that captivates you?

Primarily because it’s the area in which I feel the most comfortable. I’m well rounded enough, in terms of my ability, to work in other areas. However, I see and feel in a three dimensional plane. And in terms of my ability to carve, I work in the area that I feel most successful.

Before you took on the sculpting career, you were a teacher of the fine arts. What did you enjoy most about teaching?

Teaching promotes a love of people and caring about others, and how they can receive a creative experience. Everybody has something within them. Although there are individuals who have a natural visual learning skill, everybody I worked with was able to come up with something that they felt good about, and as a result, they felt good about their own abilities and felt better about themselves. Everybody was able to reach some degree of satisfaction.

One of the beautiful things about teaching is when you have young people coming back to you, giving thanks for everything you did as a teacher. That last year of teaching I retired and unretired every 15 minutes. While I knew it was my time, it was a sad thing for me to leave something I loved so much.

To someone who’s attending a Sugarloaf Crafts Festival for the first time, what mindset would you recommend they bring with them to the show?

A lot of people go to the shows specifically because they know what they’re going to find. But, first-timers should go with an open-mind to accept everything they’re about to see and understand that they may not get to ever see this again, or will their children, family, or relatives, unless they frequently attend the shows.

Open yourself for a greater understanding and appreciation of the fact that it’s made right here by the person you’re talking to in the booth, and not somebody online or an operator or computer. You can’t match what you can get attending a Sugarloaf Crafts Festival.

Has your sculpting practice changed over time, or has it remained consistent over the years?

Sculpting for me is like a journey. You see, sculpting, in terms of a process, is very very slow. Each of the marks on the stone and each of the turns of the turn-table creates a new dimension and new feeling. My favorite carving is just taking a piece of stone and, without having a thought in mind about what I wanted to do, just started sculpting. Each sculpture is its own cool new little journey. Because of that, almost everything that I sculpt is a change; and yet it’s the same because, in terms of the sculpture, it still looks like my work. But it’s a new journey in itself.

Who is your favorite sculptor and why?

Henry Moore. An artist’s job is to communicate with the viewers about the world, and that’s what Henry did. Henry was an old school person trained in the fine arts. But, he decided he was going to tell his story a different way, and so he started taking these human natural shapes and forms and abstracting the things that he thought were important in them, via rock sculpture. So that while they don’t realistically resemble the human form, they certainly resemble human forms in their whole impressions, and you get, very clearly, the fact that these are human forms.

Henry Moore’s trying to tell you to look at his sculptures in a way so that the viewer doesn’t necessarily see any exact replica of what a human form is, but rather the viewer sees his work as representing all mankind. If we see his art as being every man and not a single specific person, then maybe we’ll get to realize that we are in fact all part of one world. We’re not all that different than one another. We have the same formations and feelings.

What does your ideal sculpting environment look like?

My environment and where I carve is mostly outdoors. It’s part of that journey I was talking about. At times I get lost in my little journey. I’m often reminded of the story of when I’d go out at 8, 9, 10 o’clock in the morning, and around 2 o’clock in the afternoon my wife would come outside to where I sculpted and ask if I had decided when it would be that I would eat or maybe go to the bathroom; or she would just come out and say “It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon” [Marty laughs].

I have a work shed that I can carve in during the winter, and as a result, most of my carving is in spring, summer, and fall. But for the most part, I carve outside. I’m telling a story about nature, in nature, with a stone that is of nature.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I was actually at a Sugarloaf show when a woman, who was almost totally blind, asked if she could feel my work. And so she went around feeling the surfaces of my work and describing the shapes and what she felt. I became emotional because it was almost a throwback to when I initially carved the piece, and she was describing my feelings and my thoughts, in her own way. It was actually quite emotional.

Have you ever dabbled in any other forms of art?

Yeah. I’ve drawn, painted, and even dabbled in photography. Throughout my profession as a teacher, I dabbled in all areas. But I don’t feel as comfortable in any of them as I do with sculpting. From a very young age, I always felt more comfortable working with clays. That being said, for an artist, it’s a matter of succession from one area to another, during which an artist finds where they’re more successful. I think that’s probably a natural progression. It sometimes takes a while for you to be able to find the thing that’s most satisfying for you and what you’re best at.

Why are you interested in performing at Sugarloaf Crafts Festivals?

I truly appreciate the Sugarloaf Crafts Festivals. They cast a wide net over a significant amount of different art forms so that there’s something for everybody. Lots of different people get exposed to lots of different things. Sugarloaf will go out of their way to have demonstrators produce their crafts at the show, which I think is great. It allows people to understand that everything that is made by all artists at the show, not just the demonstrators, is hand-made, and not imported from, say, another country. It’s nice because it’s made here in America and it’s created by the person in the booth, and you get to actually talk to the person that made it! The demonstrators are proof of that.

I really need to thank Sugarloaf, for what they are able to do at each of their festivals. It’s a teaching experience for people who see it. It’s a teaching experience for myself who is able to talk about my work and my craft. But it wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for the producers of Sugarloaf who allow us to do just that, and on such a large scale. In terms of pushing demonstrations and public exposure, it’s the only show I’ve ever done that has all of these combination of things. I really appreciate Sugarloaf for that.

What’s the craziest material or type of rock that you’ve ever sculpted?

In my younger days when I was more able to do that, I did carve a lot of lava. I used to carve them into exotic shapes and forms, mainly for fountains.

Do you have a dream project that you’d like to work on?

Here’s my answer and I know it sounds corny. Every time I go to the supply house where the rock I purchase is originally stored, that thought about what I’d like to carve as I’m looking at the once dusty and dirty stone that I have since cleaned off, that’s my next dream.

You know what my next dream is? To continue doing what I do because each time I do it, that next sculpting piece is my dream piece. In other words, it’s nothing specific that I’ve always wanted to do. When I’m finished with one piece, I’ll wake up, work, go to bed and have another dream and come up with another piece. It’s not that I feel like I have to carve one of these dreams. I just want to carve. I just want to keep doing it.