Surls has earned a national and international reputation for an intriguing body of work that spans over four decades. Born in East Texas in 1943, he drew inspiration from the woods of his boyhood home, not only in his choice of materials, but also in his imaginative interpretation of nature. Following the award of his Master of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1968, he began to develop evocative, hybrid forms in wood, and later in steel and bronze, inspired by flowers, the human body, and rock formations. These fantastical sculptures, when considered together with his whimsical, sometimes cryptic titles, have led numerous critics to associate Surls with Surrealism, yet he expresses some discomfort with the suggestion. Although he often eschews logic and reason in favor of paradox, like many of the Surrealists, Surls disclaims any direct influence and prefers to see his project as the creation of new and sometimes contradictory realities with overt metaphysical implications. Author Joseph Chilton Pearce, who Surls considers among his primary inspirations, argued in his seminal book The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: New Constructs of Mind and Reality that, “Our reality is influenced by our notions about reality, regardless of the nature of those notions.” By altering those preconceptions, the individual may arrive at a new perception of reality and, as a result, “imagination can escape the mundane shell and create a new shell.” Surls’s drawings and sculptures, in their imaginative exploration of the natural world, represent the artist’s escape through that crack. In recent years, his altered perception has led him to perceive everything as fundamentally interconnected, and he has drawn formal associations between the seemingly disparate structures of neurons, molecules, and plants as evidence of this interrelation. Both this catalogue and the accompanying exhibition stand as testament to Surls’s reality.
$15.00, paperbound, ISBN 978-0-692-52123-6
83 pages, 12 x 9
21 color images, 28 B&W
View a preview of this exhibition catalog below.