Free Stone Carving Art Class in Hunter NY
Learn the ancient art of stone carving with master stone sculptor, Kevin Van Hentenryck, in a free seminar this August 21st through August 26th in Hunter. Choose to observe and learn, or practice carving from concept and layout to surface finishing – for one day or as many of the six days as your schedule allows. Everyone is welcome. All interested attending parties are capable of creating art and learning power tool techniques! Please come with safety gear (more info below), your curiosity and a willingness to get dirty! Everyone can be creative, given the opportunity!
Van Hentenryck said that he began his love affair with stone after seeing a 1972 Ken Russell film Savage Messiah about a little-known French sculptor, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. He was deeply moved by a close-up of the stone carver’s hands working the stone and has been continuously inspired by that tactile image to this day. Van Hentenryck says the film documented an artist who left behind extraordinary sculptures in his short life. He remarks about the current over-corporatization model in the arts that thwarts many artists from gaining the popularity needed to be successful. At the same time, ordinary people shy away from art experiences as the profit-driven paradigm doesn’t value making and creating as a viable pastime. Culturally, Van Hentenryck feels that the artist inside each person should be encouraged to create. This inspiration has guided his determination to offer this stone carving experience for free, year after year.
Is this your year? Are you returning?
Van Hentenryck founded the Hunter Stone Carving Seminar (HSCS) in 2007 out of his desire to popularize art-making and make art training freely accessible. His vision is to respond to the corporate model by making public sculptures using our local bluestone. He said, “The class is meant to teach everyone as much as possible about this ancient art.”
The project started in a greenspace just west of Hunter Town House called Bluestones Park, which has been donated by the town as a permanent home for the class and the sculpture park for all of the petroglyphs made in HSCS by human hands working stone. Originally, everyone carved in the huge boulders donated by a local quarry and moved by the town of Hunter to the location. Over the years, some participants wanted to make and take a sculpture for their garden, for a pet marker, etc. So now, one can work with a smaller local blue-gray stone of the Catskills provided on the premises or a rock of any sort that you bring along like marble, cement, brick, or granite. Do you want to carve on a small version to take with you or on the massive boulders left there for thousands of eyes to behold? Four-year-olds as well as museum-quality artists have worked on the exhibition at Bluestones Park – free and available for everyone.
Working on the boulders on-site connects the creator to all of human evolution. As the sculpture emerges, one has the feeling of something as old as Catskill bluestone while seeing into the future of descendant viewers and carvers, adding to the art experience many years from now. As well, one can choose to work on an existing collection of sculptures created by hundreds of hands over 16 years now. Some artists have worked on just one section for up to four years in a row.
Van Hentenryck calls a certain 12-ton block of stone “Spirit of the Mountains.” He says, “It is meant to be a life-size allegorical piece expressing nature as a feminine figure with the infant future in her right hand and an urn on her left shoulder representing the water of knowledge that flows into Kaaterskill Falls. Each artist takes a portion of the piece and makes it their own. At this point, the bear and deer have been claimed by artists, but many, many more opportunities are available. You could carve a rabbit, an eagle or a mountain lion.” If you don’t feel ready to carve into the rock where humans will be viewing perhaps hundreds or thousands of years from now, maybe you can learn, practice and be ready next year.
The website for the yearly event states an important fact for those thinking they can’t carve in just a few short weeks from now:
“Local bluestone of the Catskill Mountains is a medium hardness stone and a relatively young stone in geological terms. At 360 million years old, it was the sediment at the bottom of a shallow sea that was here long before we were. And the scratches we make in this wonderful material have the potential to last thousands of years outdoors without maintenance. Many seem to associate the hardness of stone with an imagined difficulty to work on that material. This is not the case. The actual material removal is relatively easy. I have had four-year-olds carving stone with the air hammer in fifteen minutes! We also often hear the phrase ‘I’m not artistic.’ This is also inaccurate. All humans are born as creative beings. Our corporate-controlled culture succeeds in beating it out of some of us. However, it can be reawakened!”
Find out more about Van Hentenryck, the artist-teacher at www.kevinvanh.com. One of his pieces, Rip Van Winkle resides on the summit of Hunter Mountain and can be seen by taking a Sky Ride on Ski Lift A to see it. The lift ride itself, along with the immensity and meaningfulness of the sculpture is a great pair to the carving seminar.
Visit this website to learn more about what to wear and what preparations to bring like safety glasses, dust masks, ear plugs, work gloves and work clothes. William’s Lumber in Tannersville offers 15% off for all seminar participants purchasing safety equipment. Trow & Holden Co. in Barre, Vermont generously lends the tools for this project year after year. The Village of Tannersville lends the air compressor that powers the project.
It is FREE!
Daily 9 am-5 pm August 21-26. No Reservations. First come, first served. The best time to come is early in the day or late in the day. Mid-day gets busy with sharing tools.
These are such beautiful gifts that allow HSCS to offer free instruction, support and annual continuity. The community truly steps up for people and for the arts in this magnanimous experience of making something lasting with one’s own hands.
Kevin Van Hentenryck says, “What is ‘missed’ most often about Bluestones Park and Spirit of the Mountains is what is missed in our corporate-controlled culture that we are in at the moment: that time is deep.” With stone carving, we are able to satisfy a longing for deep work, time to create beauty with our own hands and leave a tangible legacy for the future.
“One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.” ~ HSCS student
Come spend some time, go deep in a playful way and find some skills that are already inside of you. Safely learn something about tools, so that you can experience freedom in creativity. Reach back to the ancient cave carving first peoples in your DNA and leave something for the descendant earthlings of beauty, etched in stone… from your heart.