The visionary sculptures of Aleph Geddis integrate sacred forms of geometry with traditional hand carving techniques. Aleph grew up on Orcas Island apprenticing with his stepfather, Walter Henderson, a master wood worker. Through traveling and collaborating with other artists he has developed his own understanding of form and means of expression. Now, Aleph splits his time between his studio in Bali and his family's carving shed on Orcas Island, where we spoke with him about the influence of travel, the difference between his life in Bali and Orcas, and the how spirituality and creativity interrelate.
"For me traveling is huge. Ever since I've been little I've been traveling and it's turned out to be a key part of my creativity ... Bali was a place that I always heard about from when I was little. When I'm in Bali I usually wake up in the morning and if it's nice I go surfing for a couple of hours, then I have a nice breakfast and then I come back to my studio and carve. There's something special about the creative flow in Bali, like, moving from thought to form happens really quickly ... and it's also a place that has a lot of creative energy. You have accessibility to nature and you also have cafes and dancing on the weekends so I feel like I have a nice balance there. And even though it's not a city, I feel like it's one of those hot spots that a lot of people travel through so you can meet anybody at anytime. When I'm there I can come up with new ideas which is really special contrast to being on Orcas where creativity comes out of me in a different kind of way."
"I started out doing a lot of power carving while I was apprenticing with my Dad. It required a lot of detail work and machined kind of stuff ... and you know ... it was always very dusty and noisy. From there I gravitated towards doing more work with hand tools. With hand tools it's all about the process and being present and that kind of led me to carving as my spiritual practice because it centers me. I can focus on being present with the chip and just focus on the quality of the chip. It feels kind of like a Taoist or Zen practice. So, whenever I'm too much in my head, going and carving brings me back and connects me again. And with the work, you have to be into the process. When you are present with each individual chip the work always turns out to be better than if you are constantly focussed on the end result."
"After apprenticing with my Dad and then leaving, I slowly found my own voice. Now when I come back to Orcas I am able to bring different information and other artists who can also share and evolve the culture and now different kinds of art are being done here which is kind of magical. The difference between being here and being in my studio in Bali is that when I'm on Orcas, I won't leave the property for a week or two weeks at a time. Whenever I think about building new creative spaces, I wonder if they will have the same magic and openness as this studio. A huge part of what makes this place special is Walter's (Aleph's Dad) focus and the intention he has. This has always been a place where Walter would drop anything he is working on to help someone else with their project so it has this sharing and openness to it that naturally facilitates creativity. The culture of it is so strong that motivation here is often automatic ... When I'm here I wake up and I just start creating. There are not that many places like that."
"Keeping a beginners mindset is another big thing in my spiritual practice and in my work ... to be able to work on a piece and when I go into a new environment it helps me look at my work in a new way and that's a key part of my creative process for sure. I'm in the process of creating these little creative pockets in different places where I can get the feeling of being somewhere new, and at the same time I can be focussed and work and be productive.
Sculptures for Sale by Aleph Geddis