Sunday, August 8, 2010

ALT/NEU is a concept

Alt/Neu is a concept. It means Old/New in the German language. It's a notion that holds no boundaries. It can present itself as timeless and enduring, or quite the opposite as ephemeral and transitory. I created this term while trying to define my woodcarving. It's quite fitting since I'm of German descent, my mentor is the prolific German woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider (1460 – 7 July 1531) and I happen to enjoy Brats and Beer. Alt/Neu can be perceived as the symbiosis of an OLD craft and NEW art. It can respect and celebrate old techniques, traditional rituals, crude tools, and redefine what was once know as a relic into a woven relationship with the modern world. My woodcarvings live and breathe in the world of Alt/Neu. This is certainly not your grandpa's woodcarving. I don't carve duck decoys, although I do think duck decoys are rather beautiful.

The birth of Alt/Neu came to me when I had a booth at the Portland Saturday Market. I decided to name my business "Alt/Neu". I thought it was clever. But it confused the patrons of the market and I experienced a lot of crooked eyebrows. Perhaps I should've named my booth "carvers corner" or "whimsical widdler"? I packed up my booth to meditate and take refuge in Alt/Neu. To take serious the versatile potential of bas-relief woodcarving in the 21st century. Portland has a gorgeous pool of Alt/Neu artists: weavers, quilters, knitters, fanzine publishers, book binders, woodblock print-makers, sculptors...  cross-stitchers?  Reinventors and rule breakers.  Guerrilla Craftsmen.  We have amazing pioneers blazing old craft mediums and reclaiming them in the modern world.

I've never had the desire to "blog" about my work, but recently I've been tongue-tied trying to explain what I do.  This site is dedicated to house my process for those who are interested in knowing more about this method and style of relief carving.  Although I use techniques identical to the old masters, such as carving in linden/lime wood (basswood) and I only use hand-tools, the content is certainly not what you would imagine in relief carving.  I finally decided to take the plunge becoming a woodcarving blogger to provide images and explanations of the prepping, carving, sanding, staining and finishing processes I use. And if the mood strikes me, I'll even explain the themes and intimacies of individual pieces.

Vielen Dank,
Nik Arnold

No comments:

Post a Comment