Caril Chasens: Carvings and Collages
Issue: Issue 271
Posted Date: 3/22/2011
Caril Chasens lives "way up a bush road," in British Columbia,
Canada. She hauls water in buckets from the creek and turns on a
generator when she wants to use her computer. In large part, that
locale is an important part of how she came to her present
involvement with woodcarving: her back-to-the-land lifestyle involved
carpentry and log building.
think there is a feeling of place in my work," Caril says --
most of her wood sources are also local to her area, and the sense of
the environment is important to her.
in drawing and painting, Caril made her first wood carving in 1992.
It was a bear, made from birch wood, and, "I was dissatisfied
with the little carving standing alone on the bench, so I carved an
environment for her," Caril said.
there, Caril has progressed into making sculptural relief carvings
and, her current concentration, pieces that she calls "Molten
Wood": they combine her wooden sculptures with digitally created
background environments. The inspiration for this came in part from
yet another medium: photography.
of sculptures may be well composed and show what the woodcarving
looks like from the camera's view," Caril said, "but I
found them lacking as artworks in themselves." By "messing
around with graphics software," she began creating the Molten
Wood digital collages. In those pictures, she says, "Wood,
pictured with its complexity and grain, is exciting material for
digital selection techniques."
course, first she needs to create the wood sculpture carvings to
photograph. These, Caril makes with hand tools, frequently from birch
wood. She particularly likes birch burl. As for other preferred
woods, Caril says, "Butternut is wonderful, but many of the
trees have been destroyed by canker, so there are ethical issues. I
have not gotten any new supply since 1995." The piece she's
working on right now is, in fact, from three joined pieces of birch,
with a working title "The Ghost in the Library."
of Caril's pieces represent people or animals "or creatures that
combine the two, within abstracted environment." The combination
of the two creatures is what has happened in a piece Caril cites as
among her favorites, "Horsey Face." The carving, made from
a large pine burl, combines human and horse figures.
this piece and her other projects, Caril said, "I start with a
block of wood and an idea. The two evolve together, toward the
finished piece. Wood is a particularly expressive medium. The complex
grain and structure is a constant adventure."