Alyse Lucas Corcoran
“ It is not the years we remember, it is the moments.”
I heard once that the first forty years of life are for experiencing and the second forty years are for reflection. This idea made me pay close attention to everything I would want to remember. But, then, I could not fathom a time in my future, considering my responsibilities, when I would have the time for reflection.
In my early years, the tranquility and solitude of Charleston’s Low Country marshes, moss, and waterways nurtured my creativity and inspired my writing and sculpting. However, as time went on, I became a single mother of three very young children, and I was forced to focus my writing skills on employment applications. Mustering all the diligence, cunning and timing I could, I made a serious and sensible sounding resume´out of my diverse degrees from Rollins, Duke, and Stanford and my executive experience in politics and government. Creative writing and sculpting were relegated to the bottom of the resume´ under “hobbies”.
These efforts thrust me into Atlanta’s fast paced business life, which then led to my position as Director of Economic Development for the city. I plunged into my profession while also attempting to be “supermom” with a smile on my face, sliding KFC chicken onto a china platter and making slice-and-bake cookies. I now look back on that tenacity and energy and ask, “Who was that masked women?” Then, while still in my thirties, and still with three very young children, I found myself well placed in a position at the White House as a specialist in urban policy. It was at this time that I was certainly doing the “experiencing” part.
I was, however, to return from this demanding, high profile, stressful, but incredibly exhilarating professional, social, and personal life to the soft, warm, nurturing habitat of the South, by a very sudden and unforeseen route. The same week I was offered the most outstanding career opportunity of my life, and ironically, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The light had turned red at the intersection of my life, or so it seemed.
One of the two smartest people that I have ever known, Stu Eizenstat, honored me by soliciting my answer to the question, “Can a woman really have it all?” I answered, “Yes, a woman can have it all, just not all at one time.” So now, in an unpredictable way, I have been given my time for reflection. I kept fighting to “get well.” There were many side effects, then a second cancer and other serious illness. Then I decided that it was time to look at my life from a different perspective.
I sat me down and asked me, “If you never have any more strength or energy than you do now, what can you do that will make you feel worthwhile and valuable, be productive and sincerely enjoy?” The answer was thinking, writing and sculpting.
Sometimes I regret leaving my sculpting behind in undergraduate school, for I had a superb teacher. But recently a stranger, a wise looking woman, revealed to me that it was ordained that I resume sculpting at this time in my life. I do realize now that the life I have led in lieu of sculpting, gives me a great deal to think about, write about, and sculpt about. And that in turn, I believe, is what makes people more interested in what I think, write and sculpt.
Though I never planned to be-or thought of myself in this way- many people have told me that I am an “activist” artist. I do not care for the word “activist”. Politics, government and militant neighborhood groups have turned me off that word. Yet, in my heart, I know I have been an activist since age four. Everything I sculpt starts with an issue about which I feel strongly, an emotion, experience, or memory that has shaped my life and compels me to help shape a better world. I wrap and define these ideas in clay. I do not design what I write or sculpt. I simply translate a vision as it is given to me. My extensive training in the Stanislavsky method of acting has enabled me to conjurer up the emotions of my sculpted figures. This in turn invokes a strong emotional response from the viewer.
I sculpt real life, seldom using a model; I sculpt from the inside out. My work is very diversified, except that I have not yet done a dancer.
When people ask me if I pray to God to make me well, I reply “no” I pray to God to make me of value. I believe that my sculpting is God’s answer to my prayer and I am profoundly grateful.
“ To see a universe in a grain of sand, heaven in a wildflower.”