It’s been said that it is like an assault on the senses when one touches a piece of alabaster sculpture honed by the celebrated artist Lois Giorgis.
The Conway water colorist and portraitist embarked recently on the medium of sculpture with delicious results after a painting career of some 70 years.
"I’m enjoying this new venture," says Giorgis during a reflection on her efforts to create heavenly pieces of direct stone sculpture, bringing out her ideas into reality.
But why alabaster?
She smiled coyly and said "I’ve been an artist for most of my life and I wanted to try something different. Alabaster seemed to be a challenge — halfway between softstone which is soft and marble which is hard." In the short time she has engaged herself in alabaster sculpture, the pieces she has turned out — many on display in antique shops - have been arresting.
In the process she has learned that sculpting requires an emotional grip on the subject and the knowledge of the elements of construction as well.
"Creative impulse," therefore must serve the artist in his or her work as it has through the ages," the Conway artist declares.
Stone sculpture was the initial artistic labor of humans since the earliest times with crude images on the walls of a caves being the first means of communication.
The sculptor Milt Liebson reminds that the history of stone as an art form was seen in the Ten Commandments which Moses received. They were carved in stone. Stone, it was said, has been the primary art form throughout the ages. Sculpting, then, has always served as a freedom of expression and the means for individual creativity.
The individual coming upon the statue of Michelangelo’s David in a Florence museum is captivated and exhilarated bringing tears to his eyes at the sight of such beauty.
The other day while Giorgis was holding court inside Carmen’s Antique and Art Shop at Oak and Chestnut Streets, Giorgis said:
"Here is some of my work with alabaster," waving an arm in the direction of table top where several of her pieces sat glinting in the sunlight flowing through a window.
A boorish onlooker said: "Sell anything?"
"Why, yes," she said ignoring his bad taste. "Many have been sold from here as Carmen (Thompson) has allowed me to feature my alabaster and several other art pieces."
Another question was not so insensitive. Giorgis was asked where she got her ideas. Since she has been involved in the art world for some time, this artist has been able to recognize the physical aspects of the world about her. Forms and shapes of nature abound and everywhere ideas emerge for the artist.
Once an idea is fixed in her mind, Giorgis sets about transforming a block of stone into an art form. She has acquired blocks of stone — some about 60 pounds — from a quarry in the southwest.
Now she is prepared to go to work using a host of tools - chisels, hammers and the like — to gain the shape she envisions.
Her first effort, for some unaccountable reason, was the sculpting of a bonsai tree. She worked assiduously, happy with her attempt at the new medium — until it suddenly fell apart. She laughed at the recollection but she was far from being undaunted. She continued on doggedly until today she turns out handsome works.
She makes note of the fact that taking lessons in the art form was not in her realm or to her liking. Instead she sought out the best minds around. She said Brian Massey, the noted sculptor at the University of Central Arkansas, was of particular value in making suggestions that provided her helpful knowledge.
His advice was invaluable, and so was his gift of spare pieces of rock he offered. "He was surprised at my interest in stone sculpture. But he was sympathetic and gave me a few pointers."
She is thrilled by the results of her industry and hopes that some day she will find success as a professional sculptor and emerge as a prominent advocate of contemporary sculpture.