About The Artist

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Tom Semple is an artist working in visual, conceptual, relational, environmental, and collaborative realms.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Ursa Major

My summer began last year with a hike into the Great Bear Wilderness in northwest Montana. Two years ago I had hiked the trail with a friend from the other end. We wanted to try the trail as a day hike into the first camp site. It was early in the season so we were being extra careful about bears. We each had bear spray and we made a lot of noise as we hiked. 
We crossed into the wilderness area and the trail flattened out so we could see a few hundred yards ahead. It was a quiet morning and I was watching for mushrooms. I was moving ahead as I often do and I came to a tree that had fallen across the trail. I had to duck under it and when I came up on the other side a bear reared up on it;s hind legs roaring at me. It was amazing and awesome and horrifying. I was stunned and could not move. When he dropped down on all fours he came toward me and it was obvious he was in a panic. I was too stunned to be panicked or to do much of anything. My friend was behind the log I had just gone under and he was yelling and got out his bear spray but did not discharge it. The bear came toward me and we had a face off. My only thought was that I hoped it would not b too painful and that he would get it over with quickly. 
I was so relieved when he finally turned and headed up the hill to my left. To the right was a steep hill heading down to the river. He was not done with us yet though. After a few seconds he turned around and faced off with me again, advancing tentatively. I could not go back because of the tree down behind me. I stood silent still in shock. He was only a few feet from me and then he heard my friend who was right behind me yelling as loud as he could. The bear turned tail and headed up the trail and truned into the woods to the left and disappeared.
We became so excited at the retreat but we decided we would turn around and head to another trail and away from that bear. to be continued
2020 has been a real journey into the unknown through fear and darkness.I have survived so far. Teaching drawing online at a distance has been difficult and other than introducing new students to the tools and concepts of art, it has not been my favorite experience.
This summer was eventful and although I was able to be face to face with students even though it was through a cloth mask. Still, it was rewarding and taught me many things about myself and reinforced my ideas abut teaching.
In my opinion art should be a collaborative experience, with students learning as much from their peers as from myself. I try get them to feel to them that they are navigating through the process, gaining information and understanding technique

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Walking Prayer (Mt. Rainier 2006)

It's been over five years since I completed Walking Prayer and I feel that is enough time passed finally to respectfully publish and show it.
I began Walking Prayer as a ritual prayer for close friends and family (and by extension everyone) who were suffering from devestating illnesses.
I decided on using a red cross, the symbol for first aid and healing, as the theme for the work.
It began with a cross in my front yard made with fertilizer on the lawn that could be seen from the ground or the air.
Later in the year I took off with Colleen and we began a walk around Mt. Rainier. We moved counter clockwise on the Wonderland Trail, a 93 mile long trail circumnavigating the mountain.
The trail is almost never flat. You are either going up at a steep rate, or going down at a steep rate. At each high point on the trail I would stop and make a small red cross in the middle of the trail. I would then photograph it, take a photo pointing toward the peak (often it is hidden by forest), and then I would mix the pigment (a non toxic powder imbued with a prayer for healing) into the dust of the trail.
I picture that dust/prayer adhering to the boots of other hikers and being brought back to their homes all over the world. It starts off as a circle and then heads away from the center, like a pinwheel. That dust/prayer has been snowed on and disolved into the streams and rivers and eventually into the Pacific Ocean. I imagine some of it still remains on the trails

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the Barn

It's been awhile since I posted anything on this blog. I have been focusing my creative energies on getting my new studio set up, teaching out of state, and looking for new avenues for my relational art. Things seem to be coming together (or possibly they're falling apart in the right way) and I expect to be adding to the blog soon with new projects begun. In the meantime here's a picture of the new studio (the Barn). I expect it will be sided in a week or so and then it's a matter of getting the artwork flowing. It's as rough as it looks but the inside is huge and exciting. Lots of room for art and people.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

I believe that art is language—a way of communicating—and different kinds of art communicate not only different messages, but they engage different audiences. Therefore, for me, all art is valid, no matter the media or style. (I’m not stating that all art is good, that’s a whole different argument.) Because I would like to make a connection with all sorts of people, I speak (artistically) in many different languages, inviting people to engage with the work at whatever level of understanding they fined themselves.

A work of relational art may be understood in an academic setting but it might not even be considered art in another setting. Naturalistic painting might come across as simplistic and archaic to some but contemporary and valued by others. Functional art (sometimes referred to as ‘craft.’) is revered by one group while others label it non-art. Often within my work I incorporate different concepts or styles in order to be more inclusive to a larger audience and for the different concepts to create a synergy.

An example might be aspects of realism within an abstraction (Annunciation),
or an aesthetically pleasing setting for a relational work (Aqua Regis), or functional art incorporated into a performative work (Tea Party).

I have put off publishing a web site or blog site because I was concerned that the art that I put up might lock me into something that I might regret in the future. My work continues to evolve and devolve over the years, so that the work I was doing 10 years ago looks nothing like the work I am into now. There are ideas that keep appearing and techniques that I continue to use but the context, the process, and the product is constantly changing. I was concerned that rather than adding a new audience with different tastes, my new work might alienate people who appreciate the older stuff. Conversely, images of older work might alienate someone drawn to the newer stuff. This gets even messier when I consider revisiting older means of working which could eventually alienate everyone. What a mess—and a fearful way of living—and probably a lot of damned foolishness.

So, I have decided to put it all out there and let it fall as it will. I’d appreciate any and all input.