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works: I think there is a hunger for anything that can return us to such elemental truths. Some art has been able to do that, but now the situation is in question. There is also the meaning that comes from the making of it, if there can be a place for it.

RB: Fundamentally, there is something relevant to the statement, “Some people need to do this” It’s like this group of people down in Georgia—they call them “clay eaters”. They actually eat red clay because there is no other source around them for a certain mineral they need. None of them are dieticians, but something tells them.

There’s a rational articulation of what the drive is, but the drive itself is something more fundamental. I think that’s what artists are sensing. Something down there tells you there is a lack of nourishment, or balance. It’s biological. There is something about mind over matter, and transformation, which is deeply sustaining to some people. I think most of the time people are separated not only from nature, but from their own natures, which is to find some avenue where you can transform something. Maybe it’s just a little microcosm where you have control, and you usher this passage of material into form, and have the artifact of that passage to help you do it again.

Richard Berger (works & conversations interview)

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