Leaving The Nest: The Metaphorical Gallery Of A Food Preparation Utensils Sculptor

By: Becky Cardwell


I am a contemporary artist who specializes in the art of sculpture. My parents were artists as well, which is undoubtedly how I developed such a true appreciation for the craft. My father was a car mechanic who built creative-yet functional sculptures under the hoods of various Chevrolet models, and my mother was a secretary/aspiring rug-hooker, with a unique gift for turning otherwise mundane pieces of yarn into realistic and visually-stimulating farmhouse motifs.

Each one of my sculptures tells a personal story, and together they tell an even longer, more personal story. And while I’m confident they speak for themselves, I have taken the liberty of titling them, just in case they don’t.

The following masterpieces comprise my “Leaving the Nest” Gallery. I hope they will be as cathartic to you, as they are to me.


“Step Off My George Foreman Grill!” — 1997

The vision for this Spartan yet thought-provoking piece came to me during an extremely turbulent period in my life. After graduating from College — give or take a few dozen credits — I decided it was time to find my true calling. However, because I was directionally-challenged and suffered from a mild case of vertigo at the time, I opted instead to sit on the couch and watch television all day, in the hopes that my true calling would eventually find me.

Sadly, my Mother was not of the same opinion. Ever since the doctors severed the umbilical cord that had at one time connected us, it was as though we no longer shared the same mindset. She would continually try coercing me into doing illogical things, like contributing financially to the household, or performing chore-like duties in such a way as to belittle my skills (I had majored in Liberal Arts and therefore had a varied and extensive education).

“Would you please go and clean your room?” she would ask, in a tone that wasn’t always pleasant.

It was a horrible experience, one that I pray no other twenty-five year-old will ever be forced to endure.

The Hand That Rocks The Ladle — 1997

To the artistically-challenged eye this may look like just a regular serving spoon leaning against a silicone oven mitt, but to everyone else it is a tour de force, a minimalistic representation of life as seen by a brilliantly-creative yet unfairly tormented hostage.

As it turned out, this woman — who, only a quarter of a century earlier, allowed me to stay rent-free in her womb for nine months — was suffering from a debilitating mental illness. She began making bizarre comments, asking nonsensical questions, such as “When are you going to start pulling your own weight?” and “As long as you live under this roof, you will NOT be bringing random guys home from the bar at three a.m. — DO YOU HEAR ME???”

It wasn’t that I couldn’t hear her — she’d been standing less than three feet away at the time — it was that her words were completely absurd. It was obvious she needed professional help, and since I wasn’t a Psychiatrist, nor did I have good enough grades to get into a school for aspiring Psychiatrists, I knew I had to leave. I also knew this because she kicked me out.

She wrote me a check for four-hundred-dollars, which I used to secure a small, sculpture-friendly basement suite found on Craigslist. And while the bathroom wasn’t finished and it reeked of cat urine, I knew deep down it was better than the alternative.

* Sidenote — The alternative was becoming a squatter, and back then I didn’t have the thigh muscles required to remain in awkward positions for an extended period of time.

“Tongs For Nothing!” — 1997

This stunning success, comprised solely of strategically placed Ron Popeil “Flip-Its”, came to fruition shortly after discovering that cable would cost extra.

I was devastated. Television had been part of my life since I was six-months old, and to be without it felt like losing a family member. Only worse.

Desperate, I did the only thing I could do. I quickly sculpted this magnum opus and then reached for the phone to call my progenitor. After discovering that it, too, was not in service, I knew I had no other choice to go to see her in person.

(Public transport is yet another thing I pray no other twenty-five year-old will ever be forced to endure.)

One can only imagine the creativity-triggering angst I felt, when after embarking on such a long and arduous journey, the woman denied me, her firstborn child, the gift of life in monetary form. She said I had to learn to survive on my own, and her decision to deprive me of my livelihood hurt her more than it hurt me.

I found it hard to believe, seeing as I was hurting something fierce and I knew her threshold for pain wasn’t all that high.

Eye Of The Grinder-1997

This pupil-adorned Cuisinart could very well be my most majestic creation of all. The idea came to me while sitting on the floor of my unfurnished basement suite, brainstorming ways to earn money without having to sacrifice my free time. “What would Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III do?” I asked myself.

Unfortunately, because I’d never actually seen the movie, I really had no idea.

Just then, my former caregiver showed up. After spending the last twenty-four hours in an intensive self-rehabilitation program, she had finally come to her senses, and was begging me to return to the previously lively but now bleak and barren house we once shared.

I made her sweat it out, but in the end I knew that because she was family, I had no other choice but to forgive and forget.

So, after hugging it out and drying my tear-stained but still extremely talented eyes, I packed my satchel — made entirely out of reusable Gladware containers — and we headed back home.

Now, whenever I look at this magnificent Grind & Brew™ sculpture, whether it be sitting on my mantle or finely milling the roasted coffee beans hand-picked by Arabian artists, I am reminded of a famous quote I once heard:

“Risin’ up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances. Went the distance now I’m back on my feet, just a man and his will to survive…”

— Anonymous


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