gas masks Riveters African American Soldiers 1 The pilots pilots in dress uniforms Mule Rearing doughboys with mules African American Officers

"The relief and story that I’ve created are a visual poetry of WW1"

Playing forward the re-humanization of art

By Sabin Howard

(Note: Sabin Howard is the sculptor of the new National world War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.)

When I left my studies in Rome Italy in 1987, I really wasn’t attuned to what was going on in the current state of the post modern movement.

Howard with first bronze 600Sabin Howard with sculpture of Apollo cast in bronze in 2011.I wasn’t aware that a major coup against the rich tradition of the past was in effect, hell bent on the de-humanization of the figure in the art world. And in a move similar to the rebellious tantrum of a pre-pubescent boy, the energy of contemporary “art “ was in a state of complete rebellion. “Art” was proceeding with a grand disillusionment away from what we had held so dear in the past, and proceeding full force towards the leering and sardonic grin of irony.

I came to art late in life at age 19 with the thought that there were three artists to pay attention to and emulate; Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael. And in my ignorance, I had no understanding that anything else existed in the art world. So when I answered my call to be an artist on that fall day in October 1982 my sights were on the sacred quality of art that I was all to familiar with from childhood, not on what was going on around me.

From that moment on I worked with life models, drawing and sculpting traditionally 5 to 6 days a week, from 9 to 5 for over 25 years. An obsessive quality drove me forward. I spent years in a boarded up room, blocking out the light of day and regulated my own light and how it fell on those life models. Those life models were my reference for creating a representation of us that spoke of another world. When visitors came into my studio people remarked that you didn't know what time of day it was, nor what the weather was like outside. There were no seasons, nor a sense of time in that room. I wanted to work in an environment where time stood still and there would be no distractions. I just had this driving force to create figures that represented us and spoke of the sacred.

I was after a mythical sublimity with an earth-bound reality. I was after emotional depth, outwardly and inwardly alive. I strove for a psychologically and physically real figure full of weight and bound by gravity. My goal was to create a seamless unity between psyche and soma, mind and body. It is what the art critic and art historian, Donald Kuspit says, "It is what makes Old Master portraiture so convincing--what gives their figures presence, suggesting that we are in their presence.”

I was after the Re-humanization of Art and I was learning.

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