About the Artist

Wayne’s bio | view pdf

Life to me is a journey through the unknown. Part of the time it seems real, but most of the time it seems un-tethered to any boundaries and endlessly froth with unexplained mystery. So, to make a piece of art is like a search to get a few stakes in the ground to soften the journey of being one man among the current six and one half billion other human creatures on the earth. This will be a short explanation of my art in an attempt to explain the nature of the work.

I set out on the journey about a quarter of a century ago. In 1982 I had an unusual awakening to make art. This might not be an unusual event for some people, but for me it was large. I tend to be a bricks and mortar kind of man, so this inclination was very strange. But, it was undeniable so I began to make art. I soon realized I had become consumed with this new found passion, so found it necessary to return to college to study a little bit about it. At 34 years old I returned to college to pursue a painting degree. I became fascinated with art history, and at some point wondered whether I should change my curriculum to an art history major. But I loved making art. The mystery of art as it relates to humanity had always fascinated me. What is it about a piece of art that could elevate it to the status of “priceless.” From where I stood there was little you could do but engage it visually, as well as viscerally.

After realizing that I had a passion for the study of art history, I challenged myself to search for an original contribution to art. I never doubted that art had a magical quality to provide humanity with an endless means in which to attempt to substantiate our very being, so my search became a drive to create this original artistic idea. I wondered if I could find an aesthetic that could establish a new dialog with its viewer. Could I develop a conversation between the art and the person looking at the art that could, and would, transcend the basic object in space dimension?

With this challenge I began a journey of steady absorption of journals, magazines, catalogs, media, exhibitions, ad nausea, in an attempt to sift through all of the information to get a clearer picture of the phenomenon that is art. I read a lot of art criticism, art theory books and documents, only to be left with this “shoot yourself in the head feeling“ about how far out of touch it all felt with the act of making a piece of art.

From the historical perspective it seems that since mid 20th century the world of art has proliferated at a speed hard to keep up with. It went from being almost totally an old white mans game to one of all genders, races, nationalities, and ages. At the same time everything on the planet had become an art supply/material. It was like the artist had to run into this huge endless pile and grab some stuff and then try to create a unique voice in order to establish his or her presence. And even then it seemed like forces beyond the artist was driving the direction of art. That was the backdrop that I worked under for the first 23 years, with, I might add, great anxiety. I made art from all kinds of materials, mediums, and exhibition strategies trying to establish some ideas that might fulfill my personal commitment.

Finally, on a fall day in 1998 the idea crossed my mind that I could use human remains in the construction of my paintings. I felt immediately that I had connected with an idea that could provide me with the mystical medium I needed to clearly convey my personal relationship to art. I could put this material into a painting and thereby introduce “the essence of a human being“ integral to the piece. The work could then address the Philosophy, Psychology, Theology, Historical, Social, Esthetic aspects and ideas I wanted to address. There are no limitations, as there is a kind of esoteric kinship with the work. As I have experienced the reactions of people for about nine years I have decided that it does definitely evoke a response. My hope is that the relationship between my art and humanity can promote endless questioning of our unique existence and how it relates to our interaction with this mysterious journey. Art for me is a light, a beacon to lead me to the questions. One of my thoughts about life is, “If you wait for life to make sense you’ll miss it.” So it’s all in the search. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously!

This is short statement on the human aspect of my art.

I hope that somebody passing by my work will sense that it has meaning for them and that I am trying to convey a kinship with them as well as all humans through our shared mortality. None of us understands the mystery of life and death, but I hope the viewer sees my art as a confirmation that we all pass the same way in our brief but fascinating experience, that the gratification of living outweighs the suffering of misfortune and the inevitability of death. The people, whose remains are at the heart of my work, although anonymous, achieve a degree of immortality as they symbolize this experience. My work is a testament to them.

Thank you, Wayne D. Gilbert