Steven’s Invocation, Shandon HS Graduation, 2009


Artist Statement #23

As an artist I am continually asked to provide an "artist statement." An artist statement is, as one website states, "a moving testament to your creativity and integrity." I have never really liked putting them together, but as my art has matured, so have I, and in turn so has my artist statement. This is my most recent one and I'm actually pleased to post it.

You are traveling on the road of life. There is a sign up ahead that you can't quite make out. As you get closer you see that it is a large sheet of plywood that someone has propped up. It has been painted red and it was stenciled with a shape of an AK-47, below that is a stenciled date. The date catches your attention because it's your birth date, but there is no other information that you can associate with other than it's a gun and your birth date. Are some outlaws plotting a nefarious act with automatic weapons on your birthday or is it just a gun show coming soon? There's just not enough information to truly know for sure.

This actually happened to me and being unable to discern it's true meaning from the lack of visual cues, I, as a young graphic design student full of bright ideas, thought, "That's not very good graphic design." Perhaps the message was not intended for me? Did the designer of this sign what me to know and failed to give me enough information? I imaged someone driving by it and thinking, "Cool, the gun show on the 18th at the fairgrounds is going to have the Kalashnikov." Like the signs on the road that guide us to our destination the artist uses the elements and principles of art to connect the viewer to the information. If the information is not understandable you are probably going to get lost. If the symbols don't make sense then it probably wasn't intended for you. If the message was intended for you and you still get lost then the design has failed.

Art has always been an exploration of symbols for me. I never grow tired of discovering and learning new methods of giving visual symbols meaning. Sometimes I enjoy distorting the symbols so the viewer only gets part of the information. I hope this forces them to evaluate the way they thought before. But more often the information needs to be clear and that requires me to gain an understanding of the message and how the intended recipient expects to recognize it. In a world where I statistically have about six seconds to grab someone's attention I hope to hold him or her for ten.


I tried to add some books to my profile but it told me I had too many words.

Then why'd you ask?

So here are a few:

The Dictionary, the Encyclopedia, the Thesaurus.

Art books and magazines
American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America - Robert Hughes, 1999

"How To" books and technical manuals.

Will Eisner

US Army PS Magazine The Preventative Maintenance Monthly
PSM Library - The best technical magazine ever!! With clear and easy instructions and great Will Eisner illustrations. I used to love to sit and read these magazines when I was in the Army.

Common Sense - Thomas Paine, 1776
"I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense."

In Praise Of Folly - Desiderius Erasmus, 1509
"In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

Clown in the Moon
My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.
I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.
- Dylan Thomas

"Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The authors and poets of the 19th century, the New England Renaissance, the Realists and the Naturalists: Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Frederick Douglass, Emerson, Longfellow, Poe, Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Crane and Theodore Dreiser, Ambrose Bierce. (The film I made in college was an adaptation of "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge")

"Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison." - Henry David Thoreau

“Immortality will come to such as are fit for it, and he who would be a great soul in the future must be a great soul now.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

McGuffey ReadersMcGuffey Readers
The Bible
The Qur’an
The Bhagavad Gita
Tao-te Ching (600 BC) - Lao Tzu
The Art of War (600 BC) - Sun Tzu
A Book Of Five Rings - Miyamoto Musashi
The Prince (1513) - Niccolo Machiavelli
Brave New World (1932), Revisited (1958) - Aldous Huxley
Escape From Freedom (1941) - Erich Fromm
The Declaration of Independence - Thomas Jefferson
Obligations, Essays on Disobedience, War and Citizenship - Michael Walzer
The Politicization Of Society - Kenneth Templeton Jr., editor
The Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx
Black Elk Speaks - John Gneisenau Niehardt
Siddhartha - Herman Hesse
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Man and His Symbols - Carl Jung
The Power Of Myth - Joseph Campbell
Letter From Birmingham Jail - Martin Luther King
Nature Fights Back - Rachel Carson
A Sand County Almanac - Aldo Leopold, 1949
A Discourse on Inequality - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1754
The Log From The Sea of Cortez - John Steinbeck

Once through the forest
Alone I went;
To seek for nothing
My thoughts were bent.

I saw i' the shadow
A flower stand there
As stars it glisten'd,
As eyes 'twas fair.

I sought to pluck it,
It gently said:
"Shall I be gather'd
Only to fade?"

With all its roots
I dug it with care,
And took it home
To my garden fair.

In silent corner
Soon it was set;
There grows it ever,
There blooms it yet.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1815


The Linkous Family History

linkous book

The Linkous Family History (affectionately known as the "Green Book" (1982) and the Expanded version known as the "Red Book" (1997)) is registered in the Library of Congress (Catalog Card Number 97-74305). The family sometimes introduces themselves by their generational number. Mine is 11132342.

The roots of this line have been traced back to 1542 in Weissenbom-Luderode, Germany. Henry Linkous came to North America as a German "Hessian" soldier aboard the ship Friesland in 1776. He served with British General Burgoyne in upper New York State. Henry received a pocketknife from the General for repairing his saddle.

Surrender of General Burgoyne
John Trumbull
Oil on canvas, 12' x 18'
Commissioned 1817; purchased 1822; placed 1826
Rotunda, U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC
The scene of the surrender of the British General Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York, on October 17, 1777, was a turning point in the Revolutionary War that prevented the British from dividing New England from the rest of the colonies. The central figure is the American General Horatio Gates, who refused to take the sword offered by General Burgoyne, and, treating him as a gentleman, invites him into his tent. All of the figures in the scene are portraits of specific officers. Trumbull planned this outdoor scene to contrast with The Declaration of Independence beside it. Surrender of General Burgoyne (

"In the course of the military campaing in the Champlain Valley of Vermont and Upper New York state, General Burgonye's saddle broke and Henry Linkous (Heinrich Linckost) was asked to repair it, which he sucessfully accomplished. As a reward for this service, General Burgonye gave Henry a fancy pocket-knife."

(The Linkous Family History Expanded, Clovis E. Linkous, 1997)

The Hessians THE HESSIANS by Edward J. Lowell (

The Hessians About the Hessians (

Albemarle Barracks Albemarle Barracks was a prisoner-of-war camp for British and German prisoners during the American Revolutionary War. (
Henry was probably only there less than seven months as his first child was born May 21, 1780.

The Linkous house in Blacksburg, Va.
National Register Linkous-Kipps House

(photo: Source)

The Linkous/Kipps Homestead in Blacksburg, Montgomery Co., Virginia. This is on the original site of the home built by Henry Linkous & his wife Elizabeth Shiflet in 1799. This is the home that replaced the original one. It is still owned by family and is a National Historical Site. It has added the Kipps name because the granddaughter of Henry married Michael Kipps in 1856. He intern willed it to his son and it stayed the Kipps name for about a century. All of the Kipps have died since then and the land and the house were purchased by Colonel Bob Linkous. There are Elementary Schools in Blacksburg, Va. named after both Linkous and Kipps. The Linkous house was occupied at different times by both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Although the Linkous book accounts for many of the family members as joining the side of the Confederates. This is not surprising to me as my grandmother often expressed her intollerance of blacks and that well known rascist and Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd is a Linkous descendant.

Generations in America:
Heinrich (Henry) Linckost m. Elizabeth Shiflet
1) John (1780-1822) m. Elizabeth Trolinger
11) Adam (1806-1892) m. Nancy Long (1809-1896)
111) John Francis (1825-1884) m. Tima Virginia Walters (1825-1880)
1113) Floyd Montgomery (b. 08/03/1850 d. 16/07/1937) m. Olivia Jane Grissom (b. 19/06/1851- d. 29/08/1909)


 olivia linkous

Grama Grissom at her loom.

11132) John Robert Wayne (1871-1954) m. Mary Etta Rader (1871- )
"Bob" was the first in his family to go to college. He was a teacher and a carpenter.

granny linkous
Mary Rader, "Granny Linkous"

111323) Thelma Mildred (1906-1989) m. Thomas Franklin Weaver (1900-1974)
thelma 1
thelma 2
Thelma was a secretary for many years at Mt. Vernon Elementary School in Alexandria.

1113234) Carolyn Ruth Weaver (1942- ) m. Ronald Zelman Lewis (1942- ) m. (2) Thomas Whitaker


11132342) David Franklin Lewis (1964- ) m. J L Cassidy (1966- )
111323421) S F Lewis (1991)
111323422) S C Lewis (1993)

There are many soldiers, politicians, preachers and teachers in the Linkous family.
thelma and julius
Thelma and her brother, Julian, unk. date (they call it the Linkous forehead). Julian was a minister at the Disciples of Christ Church for 51 years in Christiansburg, Va., a chaplain in WWII with the rank of Captain and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Julian is interred with his wife at Centennial Christian Church Cemetery, Montgomery County, Virginia. Thelma is interred with her husband at the Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria, VA.


Thelma (Linkous) Weaver
"I remember running through her immaculate house, swinging on the porch swing on humid Virginia summer afternoons, eating delicious Sunday dinners, sleeping on starched white sheets. She could sew an outfit for me to match one of my mother's or her own. She crocheted doilies and handkerchiefs and afghans. She said words like chiffon-robe and davenport. She took me to Sunday School. And afterward, when I got to go into the "big church" she'd always have a pencil and paper for me if I got restless, or a soft lap of muskrat to lay my head upon if I got tired. If I scraped my knee, there was always a squirt of Bactine and a kiss and a pat on my head to run along and play again. There were Saturday night baths in a claw-foot tub. After which she'd pin curl my too-straight hair, wrapping it carefully around her finger and pinning it to dry into a style that was more in step with the rest of my curly headed cousins. There was Lawrence Welk."
-copied from a blog my sister, Sharon, wrote about Memaw.


Johanne Georg Wärber

The name Wärber is Swiss.  Johanne was born between 1710 and 1720 in Germany or Switzerland.  He signed his will in German in Augusta County, Virginia July 1767 (WB-7-173).  One can assume his ancestors were Swiss, but that Johanne was educated in Germany.  It can also be assumed that he immigrated for a better life in America.  It is believed that he arrived in Philadelphia in 1752 (the same year George Washington inherits his brother Lawrence's Mount Vernon plantation).  At that time the state of Virginia encompassed Kentucky, West Virginia, and parts of Pennsylvania.  Johanne built a farm from from rugged land in the Shenandoah Valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  What is now Staunton, Virginia in that time was "Indian territory".   Many descendants of Johanne still live in the Staunton area.  There is a monument to mark the graves of the first four generations in America at the St. Johns German Lutheran Reformed Church in Middlebrook, Virginia.  A ceremony was held at the setting of the monument by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution to honor the grave of John Peter Weaver, my Revolutionary soldier ancestor.


Wills & Inventory: Date from Wills and Inventory of Augusta County 1745-1865, book 7, page Other family information obtained from Records of Augusta County, VA1745-1800 pages 159-160, 306 and 347, John George Weaver arrived at the Port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the ship "Halifax" from Rotterdam and last from Cowes, England, September 22, 1752 (from John George Weaver Family by Dorothy Lee Weaver) copy in possession of Grant Misbach, Provo, Utah page 1.  Also at: , Page 234. 20th July, 1790. Recorded. John George Weaver's appraisement by Thomas Mitchel, Samuel Hunter, Wm. Shields, James Mitchel, Jr.

Page 173 - 27 July, 1767. John George Weaver's Will (signed in German Waber): To wife, Christina, after her death division among the children; to son, Andrew, 1 shilling in lieu of birthright; to rest of children, viz: Ann Margaret, Peter, John, George, Mary, Elizabeth.

Executors, Thomas Mitchel, Teste: Peter Hanger, Samuel Bell (a German). Proved, 15th September, 1789, by Peter Hanger and Harman Lovingood. 19th January, 1790, Mitchell appeared and refused to execute. Adminstration granted widow Christiana and son John. (Charles Edison Weaver, Jr.)

Generations in America
1. Johanne Georg Wärber b. 1715 Germany d. 1784 m. 1740 Christiana, b. 1718
2. Johan Peter Werber (John Weaver) b. 1745 d. 1815 m. 1765 Elizabeth
3. Samuel Weaver b. 1769 d. 4/1824 m. 9/1803 Phoebe Hopping
4. Samuel Bolton Weaver b. 9/1808 d. 10/1878 m. 2/1835 Rosanna Bryant
5. Samuel Hamilton Weaver b. 3/1842 d. 9/1896 m. 12/1873 Mary Francis Mourbray
6. Lewis Franklin Weaver b. 3/1881 d. 3/1951 m. 10/1898 Annie Belle Anderson
7. Thomas Franklin Weaver b. 3/1900 d. 12/1974 m. 6/1926 Thelma Mildred Linkous
8. Carolyn Ruth Weaver b. 2/1942 m. 2/1961 Ronald Zelman Lewis
9. David Franklin Lewis b. 4/1964 m. 6/27 Janet Lyn Cassidy
10. Steven Franklin and Serina Cassidy


Annie Belle Anderson and Lewis Franklin Weaver, 1898[99]
Weaver 2
My great-grandfather, Lewis Franklin Weaver was a carpenter living in Stauton, Va.  He was described as gentle and kind and always had a smile.  He lived through the depression while raising six children.  My great grandmother, Annie was described as thrifty and funny.  She raised sheep, chicken and other livestock.  She rode her horse everyday.  Their children are: Harry Oliver b. 2/1899 d. 7/1921 in WWI; Thomas Franklin b. 3/1900 d. 12/1974; Carter Tazwell b. 1/1904 d. 8/1946; Josephine Agnes b. 8/1905; May Anderson b. 11/1907; Katie Lee b. 4/1009 d. 12/1946.


Weaver 1
Top: Katie; Carter; Josephine (Agnes), Thomas (Frank), May. Bottom: Annie Belle and Lewis

By the early 1920's woman were gaining more rights and more independence.  My great-grandmother, Annie Belle, was one who exercised this freedom and divorced Lewis in 1918.  She remarried to John Brackston Coffey and had two more sons.  Lewis remarried to Florence Tinsley Brookman, they had no children.


Weaver 7
My grandfather standing next to a picture of his father, Lewis.




My grandfather, Thomas Franklin Weaver, was known to all as "Frank," but to his grandchildren he was, "Papaw."  He was born in Stauton, Va. on March 23, 1900.  He only attended school for six years.  The rest of his life he worked all over the United States.  He did a year enlistment in the Army between July 1920 and 1921 as a mechanic in the 2nd Infantry.  He met my grandmother, Thelma Linkous at Westmorland Babptist Church in Huntington, W. Virginia on Oct. 25, 1925.  They married June 20, 1926 in Huntington and lived there for eight years before moving to Alexandria, Va.  Began working at Ft. Belvior (then called Ft. Humphries) in 1934.  He helped built many of the buildings there.  At the beginning of WWII was the head inspector of the new 800 housing units, where they built one house a day.  My family has had a long history with Ft. Belvoir.  When I was young my step-father kept his boat on the Potomac at Belvoir and we spent many, many days there.  It was one of my favorite places.  When I was in the Army I went through a three month school at Belvoir.  The first morning there I went on a run with my class that took us down to the Basin.  I hadn't been there in eight years, but I knew where we where going and once I saw the dock where we kept the boat I almost cried.

Mt. Vernon from the Potomac River

I was thankful I got to spend three months in Alexandria with my grandmother because I never saw her again after that.


Weaver 4
From 1959 to 1960 my grandfather was the lead inspector for the two tombs of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington Cemetery.  This was quite an honor.

He received many honors and citations from the Corps of Engineering.  He is registered with The Sons of the American Revolution and he was a Mason at the George Washington National Masonic Temple which was down the street from his house in Alexandria.

Thomas and Thelma had four children:
Weaver 3
Betty Jean; Arvin Franklin ("Frank"); Mildred Agnes ("Milly"); Carolyn Ruth


Weaver 8
While the other siblings spread their wings and left the Alexandria area, Carolyn, my mother, stayed in Arlington after her divorce.  This gave my sister and I access to our grandparents on an almost daily basis as we lived just a few blocks away.  This is another important fact about my life that I'll always cherish.


Weaver 212
212 E. Oxford, Alexandria, VA


212 plaq
The home of my grand-parents, where my sister and I spent most of our childhood, is registered as a historical site.

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