James Crissinger photo
Having grown up in rural, Central Pennsylvania, I come by my interest in hunting and fishing honestly. This is a part of the country that still finds many schools closed on the first day of buck season. A kid’s first trout is a watershed moment and I’ll never forget the first deer I missed, let alone the first one I killed. Hunting and fishing were gateways into the natural world where truth is stranger than fiction (ever watch a stonefly crawl out of it’s skin to change from nymph to adult?) and where, if one is only paying attention, boredom is impossible. I’ve tried to pay attention.
I suppose that by hunting, fishing, and foraging I am attempting to connect to less (or possibly more) complicated times when our ancestors had to pay attention or die. Can you imagine if over half the produce at your local grocery would make you very, very, sick and some of it would kill you and none of it was labeled? That would tend to focus attention to detail when selecting the salad fixings. Our ancestors (at least the ancient ones) either knew which was which or guessed correctly with the result that we are here today.
Perhaps my artwork is also an unconscious connection to the ancestors. Throughout history people have been making sculptures and paintings of things that were important in their lives. Trying to capture things that caught their interest. Archaeologists usually attach religious significance to ancient cave paintings and the like but I think it may be just as likely that Grog just killed one heck of a big bison and he wants to commemorate the event. Or maybe he is in awe of the beauty and power in the beast and is compelled (even he doesn’t know why) to set its image on the cave wall. I’m not exactly sure what compels me to work with animal forms except that I find them fascinating and somehow, important.
Allan received his BFA in sculpture from The Pennsylvania State University in 1995. He has worked for over 20 years as the Shop Supervisor of the Stuckeman Shop at Penn State where he teaches wood working and other fabrication skills to students in the Architecture and Landscape Architecture programs. Allan is an avid mushroom forager and is a former president of the Central Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. He and his wife Beverly, live within a five minute drive of the Little Juniata River and they take advantage of that proximity as often as they can.
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© Allan Sutley 2015