Photography by Carly May.
“I shut my eyes in order to see.” These were the words of French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gaugin, likely referring to his practice of tuning out the world to get in touch with his creativity. But taking this a step further is neighborhood sculptor Kat Warwick, who is engaged in the daunting task of carving a heart out of stone in her front yard while blindfolded. She invites everyone to observe the process — and maybe learn a thing or two about art and themselves.
You may remember Warwick from her previous yard carving sessions in April. While everyone in her household suffered through COVID in March, she noticed an abundance of neighbors taking walks, riding bikes and pushing strollers in the neighborhood.
“I wondered what I could do to add interest, distraction and education for my neighbors,” she says. “I decided to set up one of my stone carving stations in the front yard and start carving out there as soon as I was well enough.”
Calling it “Art Yard Shenanigans,” Warwick set up a carving station a safe distance from the sidewalk and went to work, eschewing power and pneumatic tools in favor of hand tools, such as hammers and chisels, like Michelangelo. As she worked, she interacted with folks wandering by, teaching through her art a few lessons in math, logic, logistics, physics, creativity and self-confidence.
“It brought joy to them and to myself,” she says.
Her finished piece, a heart carved out of limestone, was auctioned, with a large portion of the proceeds going to a charity that provided an ambient tricycle for a limited-mobility teenager. Warwick titled the carving “Loving Kindness,” which was inspired by her observations of sheltering-in-place neighbors: “the love and kindness being shown friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor and stranger to stranger.”
During the summer, Warwick again set up in the front yard, this time carving “Zippy,” the running bunny sculpture. Zippy found a home in Amarillo. Again, a portion of the sale went to charity — a food bank in the Texas panhandle.
“Everything I have created this year has had a charity donation attached to its sale,” Warwick says. “I figured if I’m not paying a gallery commission, I can give a percentage of the sale of each work to charity. I’ve been auctioning my sculptures with a percentage of the winning bid going to the charity of the winning bidder’s choice.”
Next up: Another heart-shaped carving. But Warwick will be blindfolded. Why a heart? Why blindfolded?
Warwick feels called to the heart shape to remind East Dallas of the outpouring of kindness and goodwill at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Now, it seems so many folks are angry and polarized that all the amazing love and kindness is getting lost and forgotten,” she says. “It seems many folks forgot that the neighbor who voted differently than them in November was also the neighbor who shared a few rolls of toilet paper when they ran out in May. I hope that this heart reminds folks of the kindness shown just a few short months ago and a reminder that most of us are not each other’s enemy just because we have different ideas about how to move forward.”
This heart will be a bit different from her April piece. It will be larger and a bit kinetic.
“If all goes well, it will rock gently,” she says. “This is both simply a playful and aesthetically pleasing thing to do. The gentle rocking mimics the natural rhythms of life.”
So why the blindfold?
“For a fun challenge. For overcoming fear. For education. Not only for myself, but for the neighborhood kids as well,” Warwick says. “Facing your fears and overcoming them is a worthy pursuit. I hope it allows folks to explore their own views about physical and mental limitations.”
Equally meaningful, our neighborhood sculptor wishes to inspire.
For more information:
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.