Artist Statement for the exhibition titled Fear at the Baton Rouge Gallery, 2019
I would not consider myself an especially fearful person, however I have experienced fear on a whole new level since my wife became pregnant (the first time), and especially now that I have a new baby. The first time Paula became pregnant it was not exactly planned I was so full of joy, so happy and excited, and I told everyone the wonderful news. I thought about this baby every minute of the day. I often cried I was so happy. And then Paula miscarried, and it was the saddest event of my life. We decided to try again, and again Paula became pregnant. I was happy, but also did not allow myself to fully commit to joy. I was secretly convinced that we would also lose this baby. I did not want to tell anybody about the baby, even after several months. Even after the baby started moving and kicking I was so guarded, I was convinced that this baby would not survive to term. And then the baby was born a very traumatic birth, very hard on Paula and the baby. There was even a 30 second period when the baby was first born that I thought I would lose both of them, she had lost so much blood and he was not responsive. But everyone survived -- Randall Paul Smith was born on 1/17/2019 at 4:20pm, almost ten pounds; he is a very healthy little boy. Paula had told me that when my son was born my heart would explode, and it did. However, the fear has not subsided, it has been replaced with an ongoing process of discovering new terrors. What if he smothers on a blanket during the night? What if he becomes sick? Am I too old will I die before the baby is grown up and no longer needs me? What if Im a lousy parent? After dealing with the crazy helicopter parents of college students for many years, I started to understand their neurosis what if this fear turns me into a monster? When I was younger I often pretended to not be religious or superstitious, but in all honesty I am a highly superstitious person. When Randall first started to smile and coo he would often stare into corners, or up into the rafters of the ceiling .I would wonder who was visiting my baby? My loving grandparents, or some spirit haunting our old farm? For thousands of years, people sculpted and crafted toys, dolls, statues, figurines, fetishes, idols, totems, and other objects designed to ward off evil, or bring luck and good fortune. These objects were not designed to sit on pedestals in art galleries, they were used within the home to worship and pray, to protect, guard .and sometimes they were given to children to play with. Much like the old Grimms fairy tales, the toys from antiquity were often almost as horrific as the grim realities of life. The fear has not subsided, but I now feel a kinship with every parent. We all share the same concerns and fears, and it is a constant source of a special heartache. The graves of children for thousands of years have all contained favorite toys, special jewelry, and other tokens of love. Mommy and Daddy love you, sweet baby.