K. M. Ehrenfeldt

Voices of Nature

Storyteller image


The Storyteller

26-1/2" x 7-1/2" x 7-1/2"

Madrone, gold leaf, acrylics, bone, copper, bronze.

The Storyteller has been privately collected.

Hide Artist's Comments

Statement for The Storyteller

The Storyteller is the foundation of the Voices of Nature body of work, and has been shown, receiving Best of Show for the Of This Earth juried exhibit in Sebastopol, California in 1995. Having not shown in a few years, it was sent by me into the world of art to explore and report back, and an excellent report it was to be paid without having to sell the work. It’s a fond piece and has a story of its own.

While I was working on my MFA exhibit, a small temporary construct from a previous installation piece was asking for attention. It had the skull of a tern mounted on a ghostly armature draped with ragged silk, as a spectrum of nature despoiled, haunting the self-absorbed consumer. That installation addressed the state of environment wrought by humankind, who so loves all of what nature provides that it consumes relentlessly without regard or wisdom. The simple construct continued to haunt me, as if asking for a more realized existence.

In a sudden flash of insight while painting another piece, The Storyteller entered my mind. As if wielded by an unseen hand, the talking stick as scepter of the land and sky uttered its name, and revealed its form. How happier can an artist be than to see the image fully, in all its detail, complete with title! Yet within a moment I began to choke at the realization that if this stick declared “I am the Storyteller,” it could only mean that I must learn the art of storytelling and perform something. This may have been a part of my true nature surfacing, but it was not a comfort, for I much preferred the safety of studio work over live performance. One thing led to the next, and with internal screams of terror I plummeted over the edge into a new artistic expression. But that’s another story.

After knowing the image’s form, I went for a hike in the local Santa Cruz Mountains, a rugged terrain of coastal redwood and madrone forest. One moment I am thinking of the piece, the next my eyes are pulled to the path ahead, where the exact stick I needed for the piece lay. As soon as the stick was seen, the sharp jutting edge of a broken gallon jar caught my attention. I knew this was the exchange, haul out this trash and danger from this place, in return for this perfect stick. A good trade, the stick didn’t even need cutting, for it was the perfect shape and size.

To create The Storyteller, the madrone was carefully sanded to get to the milky white surface beneath the sensual burgundy skin. With the torso of the anthropomorphic bird revealed, bronze wing and tail forms were created; and with the gold-leafed tern skull, attached to complete The Storyteller’s body. Upon close view, symbols emerge on the creamy skin, spiraling up from the base around an Amazonian breast, shoulder and neck. Seared into its flesh, the archetypal designs speak through all time, of nature and man, of voice and vision.