Artist wants to unveil 'Shrouded' work
article from the Helena Independent Record

"What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."
-- Ernest Hemingway, "Death in the Afternoon."

Ten years after creating a yet-to-be-viewed sculpture that addresses the sexuality of handicapped people, Helena artist Tim Holmes feels good. In fact, he feels good enough about the piece that he has decided it is time to remove the dark shroud that has covered it since its completion in 1988. He hopes to do that soon.
After being displayed more than half a dozen times throughout the West -- always hidden beneath its black veil -- Holmes wants to let his 10-inch high, welded-steel sculpture see the light of day. The problem, and the point Holmes has been trying to make by displaying the covered art for the past 10 years, is that both he and the venue showing the piece risk legal troubles once that cloth is removed.
"Some people would find elements of it obscene," Holmes said. "It raises issues about the sexuality of disabled people. It was almost impossible to do in a way some people wouldn't find obscene."
Other, uncovered, work by Holmes, was the first by a living American to be displayed in one-man show in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. Pieces of that show remain a part of the prestigious museum's permanent collection. Other owners of his work include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Czech Republic head of state Vaclev Havel and former President Jimmy Carter. Holmes also has been commissioned to create thought-provoking pieces for Physicians for Social Responsibility and the China Information Series.
It is Holmes' hope that his veiled sculpture also provokes thought -- with or without its cloth cover.

"Cloaked, it is about the censorship of art," Holmes said. "Uncloaked, it is about something else."
Holmes decided to remove the piece's covering after traveling to Russia. There, freedom of expression is not enjoyed and artists make that point with their own covered art. After much thought, Holmes decided that was not the approach to take here. "In democratic societies, you are supposed to take off the shrouds," he said.
The piece, currently named "Not Approved," is not an easy image to look at nor is it intended to be, Holmes said. But, he added, "it brings up issues I think need to be dealt with."
Holmes also has decided to remove the shroud because it is time for a shifting of responsibility.
Holmes first decided to drape the piece during controversy surrounding public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
His decision to hide the unseen piece -- even from his manager or family -- was two-fold. In part it was to protect himself and the institution showing the piece from legal action. But, he continued, "Part of draping the sculpture came from trying to put the focus on those who censor, making it their fault." It is time, Holmes said, to take off the shroud and for him to take responsibility for "making images that are confrontational."
Holmes said he is looking for a venue that will display the unshrouded piece. If one cannot be found soon, Holmes said he will display the piece in his Helena studio. "I'd rather it be shown in a commercial setting, " Holmes said. "But it's going to be shown somewhere, even if it is just in my closet. It's the right time," Holmes explained. "At least it's the right time for me."

Copyright © 2007 Holmes Studio