Some sculptures are accompanied by words written by myself or others.  I have included them here and alongside the sculptures because these captions were part of the process; sometimes scratched hurriedly into a flattened piece of clay so I didn't forget them.  I liken them to song lyrics which do not stand alone and can be roughly expressed but work alongside the music.  

Monumental Fool

The Dawn of Reason

One morning in the garden of reason
The monumental fool divorced his God and died.
He didn’t know there was food in that root
That seemed to tie him like Gulliver
Bound by snappable cord.
The dry crack of the great divorce still echoes
In the unsteady gait of the proud footless one.
Tying on philosophies and bravado like
Shoeboxes roped onto stumps
He stalks through his world,
King of fools
Death’s prey.

Sabbath Rest

Sabbath Peace

I remember when we first met
He spoke of wind.
Now He is my conveyance
Darling soaring
Mover of men
The sound of peace riffling over the golden wheat
Beginning to grow in my soul.
What once was barren, thorns a’ poppin’
Bristling with holes deep enough to grasp Hell
Like a kid on a swing leaning into a branch
Just a reach and you’re there.
Smelling the pit and I am the smell.
All gone - the atmosphere snaking through Earth
As I rise above on wings of God
Barely believing it is happening again.
May I never lose this wonder.
Dear King, you are everything
Anyone ever promised me about you and more.

Rwanda Song

Rwanda Song

Who is my neighbor?
Melanin will help me identify him.
Too much, too little just the right shade
May save your life
Or you may lose it one day

Fools can’t see the abundant hand of the artist
Who builds his beloved man in shades to honor every color
Twisted by man’s broken soul into excuse to murder his brother.


These two are Prisoner’s poems.


Prison without walls
But a barred view.
If you stand like this
And look out there
The limit to opportunity is clear.
It’s a tradition in my family
To count the bars
And curse the life others receive
So richly and so free.

Have Not

Have not
Have not
Have not
A song of rage
That bars my way
Which I refuse
To walk around.
Better limited Than free
Better Broken
Than test the dream.
Its safe in here
Though not much room to stretch
Or breathe, or hope, or dream.

Search for Significance

Search for Significance

Momma, you didn’t tell me it would hurt so much.
Father you didn’t tell me I would go to Hell.
A day care center is stamped with my name.
And I burn. I burn.


My Friend

No shudder of pain
No ripple of fear
Faith that brings peace
Please move in, my friend
Unload your suitcase of truth.
Let’s furnish my house with your beauty.
Dear God. Let’s dance.

Sonnet 44

The following poem by Elizabeth Barret Browning is handwritten in the book held by the figure in Sonnet 44.

Sonnet XLIV

Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers
Plucked in the garden, all the summer through,
And winter, and it seemed as if they grew
In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers.
So, in the like name of that love of ours,
Take back these thoughts which here unfolded too,
And which on warm and cold days
I withdrew From my heart's ground.
Indeed, those beds and bowers
Be overgrown with bitter weeds and rue,
And wait thy weeding; yet here's eglantine,
Here's ivy!--take them, as I used to do
Thy flowers, and keep them where they shall not pine.
Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true,
And tell thy soul, their roots are left in mine.

Elizabeth Barret Browning


The woman's head has the Root of Bitterness attached to it by a nail. A wire connects the demonic personification (root figure) to a file chest upon which the sculpture rests. In these drawers are cross- indexed lists of offenses and offenders amidst broken objects associated with these offenses. Attached to the back of the cabinet is a sculpture of a winged angel floating over a heaven sky-scape.


Counselor's Song

I remember everything.
Malice is my wings.
Consult with me.
We'll keep alive
Your hurts and other things.
I’ll stir your public conscience.
It won’t be all ‘bout you.
Come let’s file.
Make lists with me.
I’ll fill you up so deep with death
You will never see
The promise of forgiveness
And Heaven’s God blue skies.
We’ll keep that beauty to our backs And live to die again.

Winged Forgiveness is a relief or wall hanging.
She is also affixed to the back of Counselor.


This sculpture, inspired by the Greek myth of Daphne, is my response to the contemporary story of a Saudi Arabian woman sentenced to life without light or human contact in a soundproof room atop her uncle’s house.In my version Daphne is old and dying. Daphne’s feelings and mind function, but she is locked into a tree form. Both women appealed to their god and family for protection from a despised lover, and both were betrayed and entombed alive. The account of the Saudi Arabian’s imprisonment and death can be found in Jean P. Sassons’ non-fiction book, Princess.

To Live in Darkness “till She Die

In this black box,
I scream and sit
And smell myself
Not sure I exist except I eat.
I hear the tray
The food comes through
Small glowing ray
Blinding partner to the bread,
Sole friend with whom I dialog.
Sometimes I sit and dream of light
And his liquid touch in the night
Now night is all I have and am.
My boundaries widened to this room.
Darkness my name darkness my tomb.
They say I’m mad but sane enough
To plan attacks against my fate.
My head like medieval weapon flung
Its weight my leader to charge the gate
Which yields its padded splendor
Yet holds quite firm, likewise my head
Only comfort bitter given.
I must not die against unyielding wood or stone
But violence done by unyielding heart.


I thought I was made for passion.
I thought I was made to be free.
Once I lived in California
Where a man I loved betrayed me.
Why didn’t you answer me Allah, when I asked,
Should I stay or flee?
Your anger must be relentless.
I think you set a trap for me.
First a fat man’s bed
Whom I despised
A humble, lying sacrifice.
Then into this box I fell
Home is only blackness.
Home is only Hell.
I was ready to come back, My Allah
How could you reject
This ghost, specter of sorrow
Head bloodied by strong floor
As unyielding as your heart,
As closed as that steel door.
I will scream out of tissues unnoticed
And they will call me mad.
Feed it and prove its existence
Fly away in dreams that can’t be.
In my stench all alone, mark existence
This un-thing dark dwelling called me.

All poems, except Sonnet 44 written and copyrighted by Karen Swenholt