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Me, the Axe, and the Wand

1982 James Surls Born: Terrell, Texas 1943 pine, mahogany, oak, hickory and rattan 125 1/2 x 53 x 26 in. (318.8 x 134.6 x 66.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Barbara and Donald Zale in honor of George and Julie Tobolowsky and James and Charmaine Surls © 1982, James Surls 2005.27A-D Not currently on view

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Me, the Axe, and the Wand embodies the "demons lurking in the wood pile" that Surls credits for his art. This comic and menacing figure represents the sculptor's creative energy spiraling up out of the southeast Texas woods like a witch in a tornado. A house where a head ought to be evokes the home Surls grew up in, learning from his father to use tools and to improvise. The manic genie's mission is both creative and destructive. He will use the ax to cut down a tree that, in turn, will become something new and transcendent. The coiled, muscular body and ancient eyes signal the "power of singular belief" that Surls shares with the folk artists he admires and that he feels any artist needs to create powerful work.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006


Object - tool - axe


About James Surls

Born: Terrell, Texas 1943

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James Surls