My sculpture and assemblage works are built with fallen aspen branches or reclaimed wood. I make at least one trip annually to the mountains of the southwestern United States to gather the aspen that I’ll use over the course of the year. Each trip to the aspen forest is a pilgrimage. Every time I return I’m inspired by the strength and the delicacy of the natural world. I try to incorporate these observations into my work.
After I collect the aspen I dry it in a hot room on my studio roof. Once dry I cut and shape the rough branches with a band saw. Next I make a puzzle of all the odd parts. I spread them out on the floor, stack them up on a table and move them around until everything seems to fit. The pieces are carved and built in small components that are joined together to create the finished forms. The surface is painted with acrylic, metal leaf and wax.
I often combine the carved wood with found materials such as antique ceiling tin, feathers, leaves, watch faces and vintage photographs. Each object that I carve or material that I use contains some fragment of a story. When I combine the organic and reclaimed elements with my carving the story of each artwork unfolds. Certain themes appear frequently, the relationship between man and nature, transience, hope, humor and grace.
Most artist’s studios contain all sorts of unusual things. Mine happens to have more of what others might discard. When I see furniture scraps, tree limbs and metal trimmings piled in a corner beside a completed sculpture I feel a bit like an alchemist. For me though alchemy is less about turning lead into gold than it is about the potential we all have to positively transform our world.