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Paul Howe

2015 ECRAC McKnight Fellows

Getting the Hang of It

22’ x 8’ x 16’
Wood, steel, field stones, rigging hardware, labor, ax, concrete, vise

Artist Statement

Making anything is risky and messy business full of mistakes and learning, and I try to remove or downplay this clutter. I press and press, edit, and pare down, searching for something clean and compelling. I am not interested in bearing common vulnerability and flaws, but uncommon strength, precision, and cohesion. This takes a lot of work, and I try to gain an audience’s trust through this work. Talk of “meaning” and “content” is empty and arbitrary to me. Only treatment matters - anything is worthy of investigation and sharing if you love it enough.

The common phrase “getting the hang of it” comes to us from the days of logging by ax. Putting a new handle on an ax head is called “hanging” it. A new handle might have a slightly different twist or weight to it, it might not feel quite right until it is practiced with a bit, until you “get the hang of it.” Paul has built a twenty-two foot tall tower of heavy timbers, steel, and rigging hardware from which he has securely hung a log. This log Paul is turning entirely into wood chips with nothing but an ax. Part sculpture, part living performance, Getting the Hang of It is an homage to the feats of engineering and the hard labor that all useful and beautiful things require.

Paul Howe

Born: 1987, Bellportm NY
Resides: Franconia, MN

• BFA, 2009, SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, NY
• MFA, 2012, UNC Greensboro, Greensboro, NC

SponsorsThis activity is made possible by a fellowship from the East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) with funds appropriated by the McKnight Foundation.

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