St. Paul artist David Ekdahl‘s carved wood totems are influenced by mythology, the movies and a pastiche of global cultures. Their titles – “Poor Clown”, “Minotaur” and “The Columbus Stick”, for example – suggest the artist’s thoughts as his pieces take shape. David’s figures spring from found basswood and a variety of species foraged near local rivers. Although the artist holds a graduate degree in painting from St. Cloud State University, he is self-taught as a carver. His tools consist of a utility knife, woodburner, torch, watercolor and stains.
David states, “My initial inspiration for teaching myself to carve was to try making my own version of an Australian aboriginal totem. They would stick these in their campsite when they left to inform the next occupants what it was like to live there. That was my jumping off point – now, of course, the whole thing has gotten wildly out of hand. I draw on a mixture of global influences while still trying to inform the next occupant what it was like to live here. Maybe I’m a Midwestern aborigine, but since I live in the modern world, these carvings are my version of an ethno-tribal folk art for the urban village.”
Photo: Louisa Podlich