John Rutland was born in the mountains of Western North Carolina. His love of the mountains and the
woods led him to his career in forestry. His foray into the creative was born in plowed fields where he
began to collect the arrowheads upon which he occasionally stumbled. As his collection grew, rather
than amass them in a box to gather dust in a closet, John chose to honor these creations carved by the
artists of thousands of years ago. He mounted them upon wood from the mountains’ trees under whose
ancestors they were shaped, forming with the arrowheads the profile of the braves who once struck and
flinted them into being.
Trees continued to lure John deeper into the creative. His ability to look upon a tree and envision the
grains within its trunk inspired him to select trees for their inherent beauty. From the forest to the
sawmill, through the processes of cutting, planing, and drying, John turned the trees into canvasses.
Upon these artworks of nature, John’s artistic dimension again emerged as he burned into them his
poems, the words of sages, and geometric figures. The arrowheads were one set of the branching tree
limbs of John’s creativity, the hewn tablets of the trunks were another interlaced network; the whole of
this tree of art yearning to leap into form awaited on the ocean’s shores.
As classic tales tell us, serendipity is often the mischievous muse leading us to a solution we only dimly
know we are seeking. Thus it was for John. In a manner parallel to the arrowheads churned up from
deeper layers in the fields of Western North Carolina, John and his partner stumbled upon sharks’ teeth.
Often broken from the unrelenting currents of time and the jaws of the machines that dredged them
from the bottom of the ocean, these relics of sea creatures lay strewn upon the shore. Like children on a
treasure hunt, they were awed and delighted by each fragment they found: sharks’ teeth and vertebrae,
fossilized pieces of whales, dolphins, sharks and horses. Unlike many other collectors, they were as
entranced by the broken teeth as they were by the prized whole teeth. Oh, these primordial fragments,
tens of millions of years old, ransacked from the depths, tossed and scattered by tides!
In one of those “aha!” moments that bespeaks of the breaking through of a deeper layer of knowing into
the light of awareness, the pieces came together. Pieces of the mountains in the cherry tree John sees in
its majesty, nearing the end of its life; pieces of the seas’ deep life tumbled onto beaches in ancient teeth
and fossils. As he and those who transcend the wounds of living and losing, loving and growing come to
know in the journey of healing, the most moving beauty is often revealed through the transformation of
the broken into a new wholeness. This is what John’s shark teeth mosaics manifest.
Mary Martin Gallery I is located on 103 Broad Street, Charleston, SC 29401 843-723-0303
Mary Martin has collections of art showing at The Vendue, Bella Grace, Andell Inn @ Kiawah Island, and the Harbour Club
Mary Martin Galleries have been selected as the best galleries in South Carolina for ten years in a row and in the top 20 galleries in the nation, Also, selected as the best gallery by several local publications. firstname.lastname@example.org