The Fruit of Our Labors: A Work in Progress

“The Fruit of Our Labors” is a symbol of defined space, like the monument that our life might be, a way to define the space we have occupied over the course of our lives. And then to fill that space with the "artifacts" of our experience, abstract and "concrete", memories, clear and vague, personal and universal.” -Tim de Christopher

Tim de Christopher’s recent work “The Fruit of Our Labors” presents the viewer with a large rough-hewn wooden structure that conjures associations to a monument, a temple, a shed, a museum, a barn, a tree-house, and perhaps an ark. The construction speaks of work, time, and ritual.
de Christopher is a sculptor, drawn to the mystery and meaning of the form. On the wall in the gallery, to introduce this work, are images of carrots that look like human forms hearkening to the doctrine of signatures: the herbalist notion that plants that have shapes like body parts, can heal that part of the body. With these images “The Fruit of Our Labors” begins a dialog among shape, meaning, mystery, and healing.
The 9 foot high structure, with the hint of a classic pediment, is populated with a hodgepodge of found objects and de Christopher’s signature stone sculptures. Within its open walls, are collections of baseballs, skeletal remains of cats, bottles, glass insulators, burnishing brushes, texts, a pile of stone sculpted to resemble bread, a dollar bill pinned to a piling with an awl, and a pocket watch. As more time is spent with the work, one finds bow-ties, an accordion, a whisk broom, a snow globe and a shoe form. From the rafters hang phallic sculptures, sculptures of roots that recall the doctrine of signatures, and numerous pendulums of sundry shapes and sizes attached to plumbs of varying lengths. Beneath the open roof, a floor of layers of thin slate patiently stacked is partially complete. Contained between the columns on three sides of the construction are large white stone tori strung on metallic rods like so many abacus beads.
de Christopher’s work is a spectacle, true to the Middle English that means: "specially prepared or arranged display." Beyond the pure pleasure of fascination, the work compels the viewer to attempt to unearth a metanarrative to somehow explain and encompass the endless interconnections among the objects. While the wisdom of postmodernity asks us to abandon this impulse, such work revives the longing for this kind of comprehensive knowledge.
The confusing identity of this structure offers a parable for our life and times as we grapple with the meaningful appropriation of the past, beyond mere hoarding and nostalgia, while attempting to articulate a coherent vision of the future from the materials we find at hand. What do we forget, what do we borrow, and what do we need to learn in this construction? This is a work in progress, as the title suggests.

J.M.M.Wilson III