WLIW Arts Beat

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Lawrence Schloss, Sculptor

Lawrence Schloss, a Long Island sculptor, creates Judaic art and shares how having Tourette’s has affected his work. Schloss is featured on the full episode WLIW Arts Beat - October 6, 2016.

AIRED: October 07, 2016 | 0:06:42
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TRANSCRIPT

Next up, we meet Long Island

sculptor Lawrence Schloss, who

creates Judaic art and shares

how having Tourette's syndrome

has affected his work.

Here's his story.

>> What led me to being a

sculptor is sort of like what

led to me to look for natural

beauty in the environment in

which I live.

It's sort of a feeling that I

have within that keeps my hands

and my mind occupied.

When I am outside walking the

dog, when I am taking a stroll

in the forest, I see forms and

shapes in wood and stone which

impels me and compels me to

create.

So I basically work from an

organic source.

I see the wood in front of me, I

see the stones in front of me,

and, from that, I just feel that

I have to make something.

And that is sort of why I became

a sculptor 13 years ago.

There is a process to the curves

within my mind that, to me, is a

mystery.

For some reason, I can see a

finished product in its basic

elements.

I could see the finished product

in a limb that is hanging from a

tree that has been blown down

through a storm.

I can see a form that I know

that I will be shaping in stone

before I make the form.

I don't draw anything out on

paper beforehand.

I sit down and I sculpt.

The piece is -- has been worked

on for eight hours.

I don't really think about it at

night.

I go to bed, I get up in the

morning, and I go back to the

piece again.

I have a graduate degree in

English literature, I'm proud to

say, from New York University,

and it was after retirement, at

age 55, that I decided that I

wanted to become a full-time

sculptor.

I have a tremendous passion for

creating Judaic art.

Now, Judaic art encapsulates and

incorporates specific ancient

themes relating to the Jewish

religion.

They're not religious pieces per

se.

You don't pray to the pieces.

Instead, they represent Hebrew

letters which are thousands of

years old.

They represent various aspects

of Hebrew culture and of the

Jewish religion that I think

stems from my early childhood.

When I was 9 and 10, I had to

sit in temple, and it was very

boring.

But one thing that I did find is

that the synagogue was

beautiful.

It was a wood bema, you know?

And consequently, I think that I

took a great deal of consolation

from just sitting, listening to

the cantor chant in Hebrew, and

then looking at the beautiful

Hebrew letters.

So there is something within

me -- because I'm not a deeply

religious person at all, but

there's something within me that

impels me to create Judaic

images.

What I have here is I have

hand-carved Hebrew lettering

which I backfilled with gold.

And I cut them into the stone to

give the illusion of tablets.

I am inspired in my art and, in

particular, in my non-Judaic

art, due to -- and this is

something that's actually quite

personal, but I'm very

comfortable speaking about it.

I've had an affliction since I

was about five years old called

Tourette's syndrome and

obsessive-compulsive disorder.

And what I have learned to do

with these organic, neurological

brain disorders is I've learned

to make it work for me.

And for some reason, I find that

my Tourette's symptoms -- which

are not full-blown anymore, as

they were in my youth.

However, my obsessive-compulsive

disorder is still pretty strong.

I find that my neurological

symptoms stop when I'm doing

sculpting.

So, naturally, the more time I

spend in my studio sculpting,

the more relaxed I feel and the

more free I feel from my

symptoms.

If that is an inspiration for

art, you know, who could say?

I am inspired by the natural,

organic beauty of Long Island,

especially the North Shore of

Long Island, where it is so

hilly, where there are so many

trees, and there are so many

forms of rocks available.

So these inspirations I think --

Also, I'm inspired by my study

of literature.

I feel that there is a high

correlation in my aesthetic

sensibility for literature and

in my creation of artwork.

To say, "If you're a writer, you

could create art, you can create

sculpture," I'm not suggesting

that.

But I'm saying that there is

some sort of link in my

aesthetic sensitivity toward

poetry, toward short stories,

toward novels, and in the

sculpture that I create.

It is an amazing process, I

find, because the end product,

the result of the sculpture, is

pretty much what I had in mind

to begin with.

I develop an intimacy with the

stone and with the wood.

It's almost as if it becomes a

part of me, and I become so

involved with the piece, whether

it takes months -- some pieces

have taken years to make.

I find that there is a

personality that is present in

all wood.

Once one starts cutting -- It's

sort of like cutting -- the

poetry -- the skull beneath the

skin.

When you start cutting into

wood, you begin to see that it

has a personality of its own --

so, too, with stone.

But what I've developed over the

past 13 years is my own personal

technique in terms of taking

stone and taking wood and

merging them together so that,

at times, one cannot see the

difference between the wood and

the stone.

I have undying respect for these

materials.

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