A significant portion of Denver-based artist Jaime Molina’s output comprises small heads carved in found wood, with hair and beards formed by hammered nails of various sizes. Molina calls these figures “Cuttys.”
When asked about his Cuttys in a Juxtapoz interview, Molina replied, “I always like them to be a bit mysterious. . . . I like the narrative that the viewer creates when they are left to determine why he looks the way he looks. I’ve been told a lot that they look sad . . .”
To me these little bearded men are reminiscent of Christ in his passion—suffering silently, embracing his fate. In this reading the nails not only add dimension and tactilicity but also, as arma Christi (instruments of Christ’s death), exert a threat, foreshadowing Jesus’s pounded, torn flesh.
The Cuttys resonate visually with several traditional religious subjects from art history: the Agony in the Garden, Ecce Homo, Christ Crowned with Thorns, Christ on the Cold Stone, and Man of Sorrows.
In most of the sculptures the eyes are closed as if the figure is riding out a wave of pain, and in one the mouth is open, emitting a grievous cry. Others in the series form a hinged container out of which a menacing force emerges—a skull, or a fanged beast, representative of death and Satan, respectively; the one is a cup he must drink, while the other seeks to tempt him off his chosen path. One of the Cutty containers bears a cactus, intensifying the impression of being pierced. (Although the plant is depicted without spines, our minds make the automatic association.)
To view more of Molina’s sculptures as well as some of his murals and other paintings, visit his Instagram page @cuttyup.