· · · · ·

The Art of Life: How and Why to Look at Sculpture by Traci L. Slatton & Sabin Howard

The Art of Life: How and Why to Look at Sculpture

by Traci L. Slatton & Sabin Howard

My husband Sabin Howard (www.sabinhoward.com) and I are writing a book about sculpture together. He is a working classical figurative sculptor–think Michelangelo–and I am NOT a PhD.

I want to write this book precisely because I am not a PhD. I want to write it for the purest reason: because I love sculpture and it enhances life and I want to share this passion, and its uplifting effect, with everyone. Sculpture is too beautiful, too innately healing, too richly resonant of what it actually means to be human, to be monopolized by a few people with advanced degrees.

I stand for the democratization of art. This is precisely why I have such a strong aversion to post-modern art, which, with its emphasis on ugliness and alienation, has begged to be rejected by the ordinary person and embraced by the few who either 1, make money off it, or 2, get a PhD out of it.

I am here to tell you: art is not dead. Neither is God, for that matter. There’s a burdgeoning movement that is rediscovering both. Beauty, too.

Why do I call this book ‘The art of life’? Simple: when you pause and breathe and take in a sculpture, it brings you back into alignment with your deepest core self. It renews your Self. It deepens your experience of this moment now, of the presence, and Presence, in this perfectly imperfect moment of space-time. And isn’t that the practice of the art of life? It is for me.

· ·


My husband is selling some plaster copies of his bronze sculptures on eBay. He came home last night dressed in his usual grungy, clay-spattered jeans and ragged tee-shirt with red iron-oxide patina stains. He trudged into the kitchen where I was cooking dinner for our little one, kissed me on the crown of my head, and tread back out. I followed him to see why his hands were so dark. Sitting on our dining room table was PERSISTENCE.
I gaped: this is a powerful, stunning piece of art. His muscles bulge under the compression of gravity, his mighty thews heave with will and determination, his veins strain and pop-out. It’s anatomically plu-perfect, hyper-real in accordance with modern taste, but classically designed and conceived in its male nudeness. It is sensory exaltation. It is an experience of revealed truth.
It’s easy for me to forget, in the dailyness of our life together, that my husband Sabin Howard is a singularly talented artist. Grumbling about his messiness, his clothes left out for me to put away, and his penchant for over-peppering every plate of food he cooks, I lose sight of his extraordinary ability. No one else can sculpt like him. No other working figurative sculptor sculpts at Sabin’s level. No one has sculpted as well as Sabin since, who, Carpeaux? And there is an argument to made that, historical place aside, Sabin is a better sculptor than Carpeaux, who tended to a saccharine quality. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sweetness in Carpeaux’s figures. But for sheer mastery, Sabin’s got him beat. Michelangelo, Bernini, Cellini, Howard: these are the great master sculptors.
Even if I do have to wash out the sink after Sabin shaves.