Hi, I’m Tom Cleveland. Thank you very much for looking at my sculpture and drawings.
I make art as a way of understanding my relationship with life.
I’ve recently completed a project I call Apology to Loneliness— a personal journey of coming to terms with my relationship with loneliness while living and working in New York City.
My apology led me into a visual adventure creating drawings and sculptures, freeing my lonelinesses from their darkness, allowing them to dance into my imagination.
The project’s culmination are the Apology Sculptures.
I would love for you to explore these projects as well as others I have made.
If you’d like to see any of the work, I would welcome a visit to my studio or any correspondence. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy looking at this site.
I once wished loneliness would leave my life alone, but then I realized that it is out of loneliness that I make art.
I began this project as an exploration of this new understanding; something of an apology to loneliness, an appreciation of where it takes me.
I began working on three wax sculptures (Flower, Heart and Shell). Each one changed radically from day to day. I photographed whichever piece I’d worked on at the end of the day and you can see many of the variations in the gallery.
I also made color pen drawings of the sea and sky as well as black and white digital drawings of the cityscape of New York City outside my window—and I’ve made some images incorporating the sculpture pieces with these.
Within these letters I explore precepts of Buddhism such as emptiness, impermanence and transformation through sculpture, drawing, video, writing, and photography. These letters also tell a story of a personal journey and a deep relationship developed through a synthesis of artwork, spiritual practice, and dialogue with another.
For many years I had favorite places I worked and the subway was one. The rumbling movement of cars packed with faces, hands, and shoes, the upright and slouching postures, the common time between destinations. And I enjoyed the company of people.
And in Brooklyn there was a particular building with a ramp and a light above so I could sit at night in the fresh air. The view was a ragged street with warehouses and leaning light poles and dark bicyclists speeding west into the Manhattan horizon. I can still hear dogs bark.
My most recent drawings are pen and inks that I made for the Apology To Loneliness project giving my wax sculptures an imagined context in far away places on the ocean or in the sky.
On weekends, when not working outside, I remember my father carving beautiful madonnas out of wood. And my mother upstairs in a room dedicated to her art, creating beautiful flower and sculptural arrangements. She was always saying “find the beauty others don’t see.”
For many years I worked at the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. My work was designing public spaces, mostly playgrounds, in different parts of Brooklyn. I also made sculptures, many for the children as spray showers or animals to climb upon and a few with special meaning in those wonderfully diverse communities. I am forever thankful for the encouragement I received.
My personal sculptures often express personal relationships in an imagined world creating them in sometimes unusual configurations. Each had special meaning in a particular moment in my life. My medium of choice is wax. I love its responsiveness to the warmth of human touch, its strength and it’s lineage to ancient sculpture.
The Apology Sculptures are associated with the Apology To Loneliness project and are a culmination of a personal struggle to embrace my loneliness and find within that human condition beauty, love and meaning after making an apology.