An Hour Before Dawn
Sassona Norton, An Hour Before Dawn, 2001
53 ½” x 27” x 44”, Bronze


I sculpt the figure to express yearning - a complex emotion that stems from seeming contradictions. While yearning may be rooted in conflict and dissatisfaction, it also points out to our ability to rise above insurmountable obstacles and cross over boundaries to realize our dreams. In its broad spectrum, yearning can define us. As it is timeless - it may also express our current life.

Yearning seems to have a stronger place nowadays, due to the dichotomy between great accomplishments and the loss of values we have been accustomed to rely on. Against the background of fast strides, individual lives are imbedded now in increased uncertainty, mobility, indifference and isolation.

I see the human body as the most direct vehicle to express aspects of this duality. My over-life-size powerful figures are clad in patinated bronze-skin that is scarred, their heads are bald, and their movements signal vulnerability. I strip them from details of time and place in order to put them in a universe void of current identity. But their particular ambiguity pulls them out into the reality of today. With my personal voice, I join the art world that has replaced the tradition of pretty and elegant with a language of raw, unfinished, and transient.

To focus on the message I "isolated" a certain part of the body, when it alone was sufficient to accentuate ambiguity. I sculpted a series of heads not as portraits, but as pairs of vessels that held contradictory emotions. The hands became an endless source of inspiration. The special architecture of hands has provided me with a rich trove of forms: when the hand is flat, it is a rectangle; with spread out fingers, it is a leaf; and as a fist it becomes a ball. The emotional architecture is even more fascinating. Separately, in their independence from each other, hands can present the far extremes of ambiguity. Once they join, they are a force of unity, the messengers of touch.

Touch is what we have lost - and what we most yearn for. It is a wonderful testament to human resolve, that experiencing life with greater anxiety has not diminished the power of yearning. Although this emotion contains absence and want, it holds the promise that in the conflict between reality and desire - desire wins to lead us to a better place.

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