Under the Spell

2016, Ross Matteson

Photography credits:  Ross Matteson

My gratitude is deep for J.R.R. Tolkien.  I have read his stories and studied his ancient elvish runes since I was a teenager. On this sculpture, interpreted, they read: Under the Spell. This is the title of my artwork and it is magically cut right into the steel face of the sculpture. These enchanting words, along side the bronze falcon are meant to invite questions.

In my life, the falcon represents an ideal of both “strength” and “grace” in balance.  It is an unending source of inspiration for me.  Because I value falcons and the qualities expressed in their nature, my sculpted forms and polished surfaces are often crafted to last for centuries — to remain both beautiful and relevant over time and in different cultures.  Bronze is one of the most enduring materials and falcons have been important and, I think, will continue to be important in art for thousands of years.

However, this sculpture is not just bronze.  Old growth cedar has been inlaid like muscle tissue into the supporting steel exoskeleton.  The cedar suggests ancient organic warmth inside an otherwise hollow cold steel frame.  Bolts, screws and welds hold the structure together.  Every carefully crafted material, shape and connection represents my heartfelt commitment to the “enduring grace” I try to express in all of my work.

My life has been enriched by the magic of falcons. I have nurtured and been nurtured by them. I have climbed on their cliffs, observed their awe-inspiring courtship flights and aerial ballet. I have raised their young. I have hunted with them. I have been heart-broken by their loss. I have been moved by their varied expressions of grace, power, beauty, tenderness, dignity and playfulness. The magic of falcons is only matched by the scenic landscapes where they are naturally found including the interwoven beauty of the species they are dependent on.

In my life, I have defended the falcon’s invaluable legacy as a wild species as well as their honored, traditional use in falconry. As a second-generation falconer, I have been close to falcons since the day I was born. They inspire me, whether they are perched on my glove or just a small dot on the horizon migrating over vast terrain.

As an artist, I love many subjects, but I feel unbounded in what I can communicate based on the behavior, image or form of a falcon. Under the falcon’s “spell” I am lifted up and inspired to learn, and I wish everyone this joy through any meaningful doorway of inspiration!