Nena St. Louis

The Elders
charred wood and canvas
20 x 11.5 x 11.5 in.

I make figurative wood sculptures because I love telling stories about being human and I love wood. With every figure I try to uncover and show as much truth about human experience as I’m capable of. I also use all the potential of wood that I know to do.

My current work, almost all charred, wrapped, and painted – some male, some female, some androgynous – and all suffering yet somehow surviving and transcendent (the miracle of our species!), evolved from work I began during the genocide and mass rapes in Bosnia and Ruwanda in the 1990’s. I was horrified, obsessed, and enraged, particularly about the rape camps. At the same time, I had been exploring paint as a means toward heightening drama. I began charring figures on the kitchen stove and mummifying them to show oppression. Then, I began adding paint to the charred, mummified figures.

I have continued charring figures as a reminder that we come from fire and will return to fire. We are stardust.

© Nena St. Louis