“Blind Philosophy”

Wayne Gilbert pairs ashes to ashes for artwork

“This is 26 different people,” says artist Wayne Gilbert as he points to different works hanging on the wall for his solo exhibition “Blind Philosophy.” “This is 47 different people,” he says of another. Instead of paint, clay, charcoal, graphite, or any other traditional medium, Gilbert uses discarded human remains from funeral homes to create his artworks, such as The Difference a Day Makes, which features a small “9/10” next to a large “9/11.” You can count the people used by adding up the earthy green, yellow and brown tones used to make the numbers and background. Every person burns up into one of these shades, and Gilbert writes the names of each on the back of the canvas.

“This is a baby — a whole baby,” he says, pointing to a yellow section and then the darker ones on either side of it. “This is my dog Abear and [this is] a friend of mine’s dog, Woody, to protect this little baby,” Gilbert explains. When he talks this way it’s hard to see how Gilbert can then go on to explain how the works have no spiritual meaning to him. He says he uses ashes because, more or less, he thought it would be an original idea; he sees the ashes as art materials to be used to create different colors, textures and images.

Gilbert says after People magazine did a story about his work he got some calls from people wanting to commemorate relatives. “They would say things like, ‘Money is no object,’” says Gilbert. “I turned it all down.” He says he didn’t want anything to interfere with his work. But he did say he’d accept any donations: “If you want to send Uncle Henry — hands off — to be part of what I call my universal family…they can become a part of any piece of art I want.” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through December 14. Art League Houston, 1953 Montrose. For information, call 713-523-9530 or visit www.artleaguehouston.org. Free.
Mondays-Saturdays. Starts: Oct. 25. Continues through Dec. 14, 2007

 
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