began in 1977 when I was enlightened by my uncle Nolan Chambers, on a unique wood carving technique that he learned from his older brother Donald, who learned it in prison. My first efforts were exact duplicates of Donald and Nolan’s work. After a few pieces, I altered their designs to add my own touch. In time, my own voice and vision emerged.
I started out using scrap lumber, but an early turning point was my first visit to Southern Lumber Company in San Jose, CA. On that day I was spellbound. I spent hours sifting through exotic woods from all over the world that I never knew existed. The touch, textures, colors, grain patterns, and even smells had me spellbound. I think I touched every piece of wood in the place, from ash to zebrawood. Some of that wood touched me. It was mind boggling to consider that the piece of ebony I held might have come from a tree that witnessed the birth of slavery. The slice of oak may have come from a tree that provided shade for the Underground Railroad. Maybe some mother's son was hung from the Tennessee Pine. Those trees had stories to tell and I was determined to translate!
All sliced and slaughtered on the shelf
At Southern Lumber Company
I heard its voice and found myself
Could I fulfill its destiny
To make its truth outlive its seeds
And did I dare accept its plea
To chronicle the history
Of sacred songs of birds of peace
That nested deep within its reach
Of sons and slaves whose eyes reflect
The memories of noose on neck
Of troubled waters left to wade
From hell to hope to brighter days
Once proud tree
Called out to me
To make it stand strong and bold again!
Now I speak Woodwordz!