My name is Roberto Rodriguez, born in 1973 originally from Argentina, moved to Uruguay in 1984 and finally to USA in 1999. Here is the story of how I got to become an art maker:
Since my early years, I have had a great interest in nature. The outdoors and animals, especially dogs, have been part of my existence on this earth since I was a small child. As I grew, I was drawn to hunting and fishing. I was the only member of my family who was into it. I started hunting small game with my slingshot, homemade by me. I remember searching for the perfect piece of wood for my weapon and old leather shoes to cut the tongue out and use to hold the stone. It became a ritual as I spent hours working to have a great final product. As I grew, I advanced to a rifle and started hunting with my dogs. We hunted Russian boars, Axis deer and Capibaras. The practice of hunting wild boars with dogs and knives is a big part of my past.
When I moved to USA in 1999, I left behind my 6 dogs. Lulu, a small mix female dog, was one of my favorites. My plans were to come for two years and go back. God had a different plan. Within a few months my parents decided to move as well, leaving all our dogs with family and friends. Three years later, I was able to go back to visit. When I got there, Lulu was seeing her lasts days. She was blind and old, but she knew I was there. The next day I was with friends when my aunt called me to tell me Lulu was dying. I rushed to her home to find Lulu barely breathing, lying on the ground. I called a friend and we immediately took her to my old time vet. She said nothing more could be done and that it was likely Lulu was waiting to see me, to die in peace. I was crying like a small child as she passed and that day, something changed deep in my soul. My outlook and feelings for animals started changing.
Fast forward eight years. I decided to get my favorite dog at the time, an Argentinian Dogo. Jabali came from Buenos Aires at 10 weeks old. A year later, I rescued Rina from Ridgeland, SC and later Tara joined our family from Iowa. I found myself hunting wild hogs in SC, but something was different. I was not enjoying it. I saw a lot of pain and suffering. I saw a fellow hunters beautiful dog being killed by a boar, dogs getting cut, mother pigs dying with the piglets being mauled by dogs, the look on animals eyes when you are taking their life and the squeal that still bothers my soul when I think about it.
At the same time I was experiencing these
mixed feelings, I was slowly nurturing a new,
growing belief and faith in God. I was questioning my actions and it became very clear to me that I was hunting with a prideful heart, a manly heart, and not a Godly heart. I enjoyed telling stories about the hunts, showing pictures, and feeling like I was a tough man. In reality, the toughest thing to do was stop. I will always remember the day around mid 2012, I knelt down and promised to God that I will never hunt with my dogs again or cause unnecessary pain and suffering to any creature. I asked God to help to fill the void that decision will create in my life.
A few months later, I watched a video of a man from Australia. He was carving a bowl from a random shapeless piece of wood. I loved it, so I decided to try it myself. I found a small oak burl, and started carving it with a chainsaw, grinders and sanders until I found the desired shape. I remember applying some lemon oil and WOW!! It was like magic and I could hardly believe I made that!
In January 2013, I built a work bench with my dad at his house. I started creating rustic, functional wooden pieces on a patio under an oak tree. I made bowls, trays, coffee tables, end tables, dining tables, mantles, sculptures, hanging lights,
centerpieces, and anything else I could. While doing so, I harvested all my materials from fallen pieces in the woods. This enabled me to keep taking my loving dogs with me on hunts. Instead of animals, we were hunting wood. Very little changed for them, but everything changed for me. I was free again, roaming the wilderness, feeling the spirit and connection with mother nature, without all the pain and suffering, just like God intended. I was given new life and am blessed enough to give new life to otherwise discarded pieces of wood.