I make figurative wood sculptures because I am a storyteller telling stories about
being human - and I love wood. With every figure I try to uncover and show as much truth about human
experience as I'm capable of. I also use all the potential of wood that I know to do.
I don't know whether what's in the news reports in the external world at a given point
in time influences my internal world and makes me choose to make a distressed, charred female dripping with
alizarin crimson reminiscent of fresh blood, or whether hearing reports of rape camps when I'm depressed and
almost crippled by menstrual cramps makes me, in turn, torture a figure. I choose subject matter
(male, female or androgynous) and treatment of the finished carved figure (charring, mummification, painting)
from a place that's not entirely within my conscious control.
My current work, almost all charred, wrapped, and painted - some male, some female,
some androgynous - and all suffering yet somehow surviving and transcendent (the miracle of our species!),
evolved from work I began during the genocide and mass rapes in Bosnia and Ruwanda in the 1990's.
I was horrified, obsessed, and enraged, particularly about the rape camps. At the same time,
I had been exploring paint as a means toward heightening drama. I began charring figures on the
kitchen stove and mummifying them to show oppression. Then, I began adding paint to the charred, mummified figures.
Recently, I have become aware of how I oppress myself! I also have become aware of
this phenomenon in people I'm close to. I am trying to find the courage to explore internal oppression
and how we as humans survive and transcend it.
~ Nena St. Louis
Nena St. Louis Autobiographical Sketch:
My Father, Myself