Chain saw artist gets students buzzing

On Friday afternoon, a white truck laden with buzz saws and a massive log pulled into the College Union plaza and parked itself in front of Mary Jemison Dining Hall.

With the help of three male Geneseo students, the log was wheeled into the center of the plaza and secured in place, ready to be sculpted by none other then Rick Pratt, chain saw artist extraordinaire.

Pratt unfolded a large metal sawhorse, wearing orange sound-canceling earphones to match his twin set of florescent orange chain saws. After a moment of contemplation, he picked up the larger of the two saws and sliced, without hesitation, into the wood.

A split second of doubt ensued when the self-taught, former lumberjack switched power tools to a smaller, more precise instrument that didn't start up immediately. On the third try, however, the engine revved and he skillfully wielded the new chain saw. Slowly, the crest of the helmet and the contours of a knightly visor began to appear; the feathered tufts of the Geneseo knight's plumage took surprisingly detailed form.

Showering both the plaza and himself in a dusting of snowflake-like sawdust, he worked tirelessly for a full hour to reveal the knight hidden within the log. "If you don't hurt, you're not carving," Pratt said, referring to the strenuous activity involved in woodcarving.

Pratt, a stout man with 18 years of experience in his craft, admitted that the Geneseo knight was far from the strangest thing he has ever had to carve, and rehashed the details of a creepy Norwegian gnome-troll that he had once been commissioned to make. He also detailed how, in his opinion, if Michelangelo were around today he'd have been using motorized saws and wood, too, as modern woodcarving is "the new age of sculpture."

A brief pause and silence but for some scattered clapping heralded the finish of his work - but lo and behold! Pratt's work was not yet finished, and it was back on with the earmuffs, back on with the power tools. Bracing the larger saw on his thigh, he removed the last of the bark.

Once again, this time truly finished, Pratt simply cut the engine and brushed the sawdust into a pile, ashes from which the knight had risen.