Loren Baker Artist Statement

“Surely all art is the result of having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, to where no one can go any further. “  
Rainer Maria Rilke
 

Last year’s Christmas cards, old picture frames purchased in a garage sale, religious prints salvaged from a local flea market, color Xeroxes taken from art history slides, odd bits of paper and ribbon, miscellaneous items from craft stores and religious supply houses – all accumulate in the backroom of my city home.

In collage and assemblage the artist is challenged with creating a cohesive, organized visual statement by combining many diverse and seemingly unrelated objects. This visual process involves finding the common denominators not always readily discernible in the isolated pieces, and reinterpreting them psychologically and physically to bring unity to the finished work. 

There are several reasons why I enjoy working with preconstructed materials. First, there is immediacy to collage, which allows the artist to work quickly, exploring an array of compositional and intuitive solutions. Second, the artist is provided with an infinite variety of images with which to work. Third, the images themselves are often curious and personally intriguing. Fourth, the individual images when viewed in a different visual context create strong emotional responses, which could not have been otherwise achieved. Many times new life is given to things which otherwise would have been destroyed. Louise Nevelson, states that she resurrects utilitarian castoffs and finds them a second life with more meaning than they originally had. 

I like to use boxes or containers which may be opened and closed. This provides me with a defintive special format and creates a feeling of intimacy and confinement. Also the relatively small scale enhances the preciousness of the object. I play one visual object against another in much the same way that a writer plays with words for similar effect. For example, in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis describes his pre-Christian character as, “a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fear, and a harem of fondled hatreds.” 

The work I’m producing betrays a continuing interest in religious objects, icons, and symbols. For years I have examined the lives of early Christian martyrs. My work has consistently focused on the relationship which seems to exist between pain, suffering and spiritual experience (ecstasy).

The works are visual mediations on the theme of ascension. Themes of ascension (elevation) were often used during the Renaissance to reflect the neo-platonic belief that the soul, in its struggle to become complete, eventually has to transcend the physical world in order to approach the Divine. 

After traveling in Europe I could not help but remember the visual richness expressed in cultures steeped in Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox tradition. In some ways my work is a personal response to the negation of beauty and ritual so often found in the Evangelical community.

Loren Baker