David Sparks

Artist bio

While still in college at age 21, David had entered his first art fair in Oak Park, Illinois. His professional art career selling watercolor paintings on the streets had begun and continued around Chicago and Northwestern Indiana for several years. This experience allowed him to create and market sellable work, but the income did not permit him to make a living. His degree in art education allowed him to teach visual art, and that seemed to work as he supported his family. He returned to college to pursue his MA in studio art at Ball State University. As a graduate assistant, he worked with classes in drawing, painting and art education. He worked in his studio space at Ball State and began to express his own “life journey” through large acrylic paintings. It was at this time when he created an anthropomorphic character named Quest. He also created a new way of expressing himself that hovered between painting and sculpture and found the artist, Red Grooms and his “Stickouts” very inspirational.


Spiritual Forces


Mixed Media

Artist Statement

My sculptural painting offers the idea of hope amidst the struggle, and can further be described as metaphorical and ethereal.
The metaphors used in this work are symbolic of a spiritual world and I created an anthropomorphic dog named Quest to be the main character in this work. I chose to use a dog because of what it symbolizes. A dog is faithful to its master, loves its master and is lovable. A dog also has a keen sense of smell and knows when something is near without seeing it. All of the dogs in a neighborhood know when an ambulance is coming before humans do because they are tuned in to high frequencies. I wanted my dog’s ears to be a dominate feature since animal ears can be very expressive. Quest’s ears also resemble the feelers of an insect and a sensitive touch was another characteristic that I wanted my character to display. The ideas of amplified smelling, hearing and feeling were important for my character since Quest would be experiencing an unseen world. I believe my anthropomorphic character reflects vulnerability, resilience and integrity. I hope the viewer can see layers of depth for this mystical piece and how I have implied something about the characters personality. How could I best describe a human character with a heavy emotional load? There is a certain piece of art created by English artist William Blake that helped in the conceptual development of my villainous pieces in this work. “Ghost of a Flea” completed in 1820, was an illustration of a flea like human, in which the human figure was used for emotional and moral effect. I attempted similar metaphorical ideas with the cicada creatures in this work. The cicadas appear to spew venom from their mouths towards the feet of Quest.
I also used an Early Christian symbol (the large circle) to represent heaven. Ephesians 2:6 says, "I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm."

How it fits into contest

The battle for my character is taking place in his mind, and that is where I have placed the emphasis. The character's head, overlaps the dove behind it. The dove represents the Holy Spirit. I believe that the white flecks of paper clay that appear within the circle, imply God's mystical work in his mind. I threw a hand full of wet paper clay at Quest’s face several times to achieve the textural affect happening inside the circle representing heaven. Curvilinear strands of twine have been fixed to the surface of the work and can represent venomous toxins that spew from the oversized cicadas. The cicadas represent evil, Satan's attempt to steal, kill and destroy on this earth. The orange strands represent electrically charged current running through some of the strands. The plant life with blue and white bans of color, represent poisonous growth in this world. The white chunks of paper clay that have been pelted at the surface of the work, can represent peace and power from the source of light and life.

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