Michael Updike, a long standing North Shore (Massachusetts) artist, creates personalized memorial stones as well as unique slate carvings.
I discovered slate carving while trying to source a traditional headstone. The dearth of attractive commercial options led me to design and carve it myself. I honed my carving skills on old slate roof shingles which then became my primary medium. I use slate with outward signs of wear. Paint, tar, nail holes, fractures, chips and flaking tell of the slate’s former utilitarian life. The scars of its history rest on its surface while I cut through the patina revealing fresher layers of stone. The contrasting “clean” surface in sunken relief, echos fossils freed from their Mesozoic entombment. My "petrified" images exist within an artifact of our domesticity. That artifact, with its planar surface, is transformed into canvas. It challenges the pictorial paradigms of additive imaging. Because I used a subtractive method the image is defined by what is missing. Within this tension I play with illusion, pun and irony while unveiling the layer between two and three dimensional art. —Michael Updike