by Maria L. Trigos S. Gilbert

Mr. Rodin’s sculpture made me think. You and things made me think. My own sculpture made me think. So let’s think.

It surprises me a lot to observe how cautious and precise we are in selecting the “right words,” at those moments when we are trying to make a point. Do you want a vivid example? This article is one of those examples. Here I am thinking and matching my words because I want to make sense. Do I have an eloquent case? I think so! For instance, I have been pondering for some years about that famous sculpture named The Thinker. Do you recall it? Let me remind you that it was Mr. Rodin, Auguste René, who carved such a magnificent piece of art. At times I wonder the real meaning of the sculpture’s name. Wouldn’t it be better to call it “He Gave Up?” I have some others possible names in mind for that sculpture. Therefore, dear reader get comfortable, take a cup of coffee or your favorite drink. Let us start because I already feel warmed enough to keep going with this article, fingers warmed enough.

Mr. Rodin’s Sculpture
There is a name in my mind that has attracted me the most. What would you say about this name, “The Resigned?” I am looking right now at this sculpture’s picture, and the more I see it, the more it tells me that there is a bit of resignation in his face and posture. It is as if he is waiting for something or someone. Yet it or the person hasn’t arrived into his life. Of course, I have to admit that its name, The Thinker, is well thought.

Now, there is another question erupting in my brain like a volcano in Hawaii. Is it funny? It may be funny, but here I am like The Thinker, thinking and thinking. The only difference is that I am with my fingers typing fast. I have a small secret which I must confess. I have been working in one of my sculptures. Are you surprised? I have tried very hard to find the right words to talk about The Thinker, sculpturing, and meditation. What is it that we do when we are meditating?

I will answer this question without any book’s support or confirmation. Is that okay with you? Write me an e-mail and let me know so. Certainly for the meantime, my article is already published. Don’t despair. You still have time to let me know your thoughts.

So, where were we? I bet you that you, like me, have been chewing all these reflections. At least this is my hope. When my husband takes a nap, he tells me that he is meditating. Do I believe him? Of course I don’t because he is not contemplating.

Hum, good question comes to my mind. What is to contemplate? If I want to be sarcastic, I would say that I just have been working on that while looking at The Thinker’s picture, or when working on my sculpture.

You And Things Made Me Think
With concern and respect I have considered The Thinker like a very lonely man. There is nothing covering him, just some hair on his head. This man seems to be exposed to everything: Atmospheric conditions, human demeanors, and at last one-self’s feelings. He seems to be giving some thoughts to all of these and perhaps a bit more. There is one thing that keeps me asking all these things.

I hope that you have noticed my last word in my previous sentence, “things.” I must emphasize one little observation that I have encountered with time. We get tired of thinking, don’t we? At times, just at times, this happens. Then we find ourselves giving everything a single name . . . THING. We refuse to give it a thought to those life’s matters which are giving us a hard time, leaving us without a real definition.

Dear reader, what would you say if I tell you that life is a constant observation, contemplation, or meditation? Don’t worry; I have finished all those ‘tion. It has been a pretty good while since I first developed a passion for sculpturing. Yet now it is my turn to talk about my own experience, sculpturing. I must say that a person is not a good artist if he or she doesn’t feel united somehow with his/her creation.

My Own Sculpture Made Me Think
When I started carving my sculpture, it was just a mixture of clay and porcelain, all rock in itself. Then I started picturing and let my hands turn something out of nothing. For sometime it was just a “thing” until I gave it some shape and form. Little by little it started talking to me; believe me I almost got scared. Yes, I did.

Can you imagine a thing talking to you? I almost felt like God on earth, knowing my creation’s weakness and virtues. One thing I know if the sculpture had asked me, “What am I doing here? What have you created me? Who are you? Why are you so much taller than me? You look so strong in front of me,” I would have collapsed. Now, we know that although I felt like the sculpture’s god, far away from reality was such thought!

Two sentences I have for all those questions, Dear “Whatever,” I just created you. Please, don’t ask me anything more. This shows my limitations as the sculpture’s “god” that I must admit. Are we getting tired of reading about my sculpture? Hum, let’s then talk about something different. Let’s talk about The Thinker. Oh, no I am not joking. I mean it. This is what this article is about: The Thinker, sculpturing, and meditation. Believe me, I am more serious than the King James.

Sculpture Speaks
The Thinker is a fascinating sculpture; it makes me feel like talking to that man. As if I want to ask him: “What’s wrong? In what have you failed?” I almost have some encouraging words for him. Yet it is funny because somehow I feel that he will not talk back to me. I guess it is okay. At the end, let me not lose perspectives that this is a sculpture not a human being. Nevertheless, it makes me wonder what did Rodin have in mind when he created it.

Fair question it is, don’t you think? Rodin certainly had a great imagination. This I will not discuss or argue about it because his sculpture talks for itself and for him. I know that he examined people’s postures, faces, and muscles because hey, the man really sculptured a story when he carved his rock.

My Last Sculpture
Now it is time to get involved in a bit of my last sculpture. I remembered that I was in a restaurant with a friend when suddenly she called my attention, almost disgusted. She asked me that if she was so boring. I asked her why she thought so. She said, “Well, well, you have been observing and practically contemplating everyone in this restaurant, BUT ME!” I felt wordless, but somehow I explained to my friend that the night before and the night before last one I had been working on one of my sculptures. I didn’t have too much of sleep and so on. Then something clicked on me; I told her that I was just doing what she said because my last sculpture made me wonder about people’s postures, faces, and muscles.

Yes, you got it; she laughed for quite a while. I didn’t want her to feel odd, so I laughed with her. Yet I did apologize to her. It wasn’t fair to have dinner with my best friend, and none attention pay to her. I decided to contemplate her . . . HA! Yes, I kept my search.

Creating A Connection
I guess that Mr. Rodin felt that way at times . . . almost studying everybody at any given moment. It is as if we are trying to find a reason for people’s gestures, including me. There is a very old saying which I am pretty sure that you know, “A picture talks more than a thousand words.” This saying has been translated in many languages, and all cultures agree that yes, a pictures says it almost all. A picture talks for itself. I sometimes spent a good while looking at magazines’ pictures. It is not a matter that they are boring. It is a matter that pictures are for me fascinating as so are sculptures for me. In a way, they transmit the sculptor’s demeanor. Am I giving myself away? Therefore, I must say that it is almost impossible to stay away from one’s creation and performance while art working.

I read an article that Mr. Kirk Douglas wrote for Reader’s Digest where he stated that when an actor/actress is rejected, he/she will take it personal BECAUSE it is a personal job. He stated that it was not a matter of one’s work by itself BECAUSE it was very hard to separate the actor/actress from his/her role, paper. I have always felt a profound respect for people who work in theaters, TV movies, or big screen movies. I have heard the interviews they get while shooting, making a film. They talk so good about their characters, some of them even feel certain connection and respect for those characters. Isn’t it neat? It is so for me!

What would you say if I tell you that I view so as if they are at first working with a rock, then little by little giving it a shape? It is as if they are carving the character to an extend that they feel comfortable with it. Yet the big question is the following, how do they manage to portrait a character that indeed doesn’t speak to them? Good question this is, right?

Feeling The Character
In order to portrait a character very well, one must feel like the character, understand the character, and perhaps even live like the character. Am I going too far? Sorry, forgot to mention that I am a very passionate person in the very best sense of the word, passionate. So do you think that Mr. Rodin felt a bit like “The Thinker?” I think that it is very possible, maybe he didn’t live like him. Yet he had to lived like him at least inside, and at least while carving its rock. He saw his final product, and I bet you that he asked, “What have I created?”

Needless to say this is just an speculation, but since Mr. Rodin is not here to tell me, to tell you, I feel like having the power of speculation. Still I haven’t finished answering the big question, how is someone capable of carving, portraying, and even writing about those “distance” characters, places, seasons . . . ?

Once again we ring the bell. All these works can happen when one meditates, contemplates his/her surroundings. Surroundings are not just places; they also mean people, attitudes, freedoms, regulations, and expectations. I am so delighted when I have the real and good chance to observe my surroundings. Even the fast steps in our lives might talk a great deal of our positions and people’s positions, I don’t mean people’s positions in society. My business is not to gossip about anyone’s life; my pleasure is to see what life leaves in one’s face and body that gives me the opportunity to carve the many pictures that I carry in my mind.

Of course, everybody is not an artist and what may mean nothing to him/her, means a lot to me, an artist. One may step into my studio and think that the clay can be used to fill some holes while I look at it from an artistic point of view. For me clay is not just clay. Colors are not just colors, and life’s shapes are not just shapes. They all speak to me, and I speak back to them. I know that I have given you a big chunk to chew on. So bite calmly; this is not a race. What seems good, tastes better when it is appreciated.

Words we forget; faces we don’t. Would you agree with me? I mean that if we pay close attention to what we see, easily we shouldn’t forget. Yet words we do forget. I read a joke that a friend tells another friend, “Did you hear me?” “Yes, but what you just said?” Certainly in this case PERHAPS it wasn’t a matter of forgetting, but not listening. Still we do forget words, even if they are repeated to us one hundred times, it is how it goes. I don’t think that this shocked you. On the contrary, it may have made you aware that yes, it does happen and a lot.

I don’t want to fall into the temptation of exploring all the possibilities that cause us to lose track in a conversation. Yet a mighty good one could be the lack of interest for the other person. It could be that the receptor is paying more attention to the person’s physique than he/she should. Therefore, I have just given two reasons while I am keeping another one in mind. This last one tells me that the person may be just distracted with his/her own thoughts, or merely observing, contemplating. It wouldn’t be a “sin” if people wouldn’t get offended when little we listen.

This is why I love to meditate. I look for a place to be alone, perhaps no too far from civilization, yet alone while carving, coloring, and naming my own creation. I love to observe body language, nonverbal communication, in people, even my own, boring? Heck, what can I say? This is it dear reader, no more no less. Yet as an artist this is what makes me write, paint, sculpt, and ultimately portrait my conceptions. I feel like the mother, wife, aunt, friend, sister, niece, or granddaughter of those “things,” screaming to me in a huge silence, “I am here; don’t you hear me?” Furthermore, I need to say that it is the nonverbal communication that takes the most “space.” It is said that at least 75 percent of what we communicate is done by gestures and silences. I do agree with it 100 percent!

Now let me share with you a story. When I was a little girl, well, well, let me tell you I am still little and girl. Let me start once again. When I was younger, well, well, I am still young. Hum, I will put it this way few years ago, two, three, or four . . . Okay, okay, it happened yesterday. Now, are you happy? Am I getting funny or funnier? You tell me; I am just enjoying the ride while typing. So, where were we? Yes, I was about to tell you a short story. Let’s begin.

Yesterday I took a chair and went to the back of my apartment; well by now you should now what I was doing. No, no, I wasn’t observing the neighbor. I have none! I was observing life. Life felt so naked, just like The Thinker, just like my sculpture as if it was waiting someone, something. Would it be possible and too egocentric to believe that it could have been waiting for me? Would you then believe me that it might have been waiting for you? Ha, now you believe me. It doesn’t matter for whom it was waiting because at the end it is as John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Sorry, but every time that I read that little piece of John Donne’s Meditation 17, it makes me fly like an eagle, higher and higher. It pours all my virtues and desires; it makes me a better person because I know that it is not just me that counts!

This is why I love to write, paint, sculpt, and portrait because I am just taking little pieces of the main and putting them together. For me there is not question about if I exist because I know that I am just as you are what you are. Right there where you are taking a place that’s where I am, I am here and I am there. My eyes see as much as my hands do. This is the enjoyment while meditating you get the thoughts organized, leaving mess for another occasion. There is creation; nothing in it hides.

We take; we give. Therefore, we should be giving a lot. Am I right? If I am right, remember, it makes you right! Because I am your part, you are my part like this we constitute the main. This my dear reader makes us whole!

From this part to your part,

María L. Trigos S. Gilbert