There’s a severed horse head crawling with ants. I’ve been pounding on it with a chisel and mallet for about five hours and thousands of tiny ants are now pouring out of the nose and mouth. The horse head is made of wood. Recycled wood. Recycled wood that has been lying in a field for years, hence the ants. My attention shifts from my chisel and mallet to the ants themselves (probably not a safe idea). They are the kind of super tiny ant that can’t possibly bite human skin. The kind my mom used to call ‘sugar ants’. They crawl towards me. They crawl right towards the razor sharp edge of my chisel. I must be like a god to them. I swell with a sense of power and pride. But I swell with mercy as well and I take a break from carving to avoid slicing up these misguided suicidal creatures. Also I would rather not have their crushed little bodies on my tools or sculpture. During my break, I get a cup of coffee and look over my sketches and models for the horse head. It’s inspired by several different examples of damaged statues from antiquity. Horses were much more popular two thousand years ago and they carved a lot of them out of stone. But the stone necks must have been a little weak for the stone heads and we ended up with a lot of decapitated horses. They form a new body of work for me. The original carved warhorse galloping across the frieze of a gaudy pagan temple is lost in the dusty past; but its beat up, sad, severed head imprisoned in a glass and stainless steel case in an ultra modern wing of an art museum is fabulous and contemporary. This is ripe fruit for me to pluck. All the original intent of the artist has been dashed to pieces by time. The artist’s name has eroded and his bones have disintegrated. These relics are now unclaimed property and I have salvage rights over them. I claim the authority to sample them, to combine them, to alter them, and to use them as a material for my work. My sculpture is a roundup of wayward objects, surfaces, ideas, etc. In using them I become a part of their continuing history. The tiny ants signal an end to my break when they retire back to their home deep in the horse’s nostrils. I pick up my tools and get back to work.