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Oliver Loveday: Artist Statement on Wood Sculpture  

             My family has always worked with wood in some manner or the other from musical instruments and cabinet making to carpentry and wood cutters. My grandfather taught me how to use fire to hollow out logs as a young child. While in college I worked with wood some but found welded steel sculpture and stone carving to be more dynamic. After I left college with the accommodations provided in the studio I had moved into a log cabin in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains where I lived for several years without electricity. Wood became a primary source of material for sculpture because I could carve with mallet and chisel during daylight hours. Since then I have moved back to other materials for sculpture but continued to return back to wood, especially during the winter months when I could work by the wood stove of my living space when it was too cold to work in the unheated studio.

            My early efforts in wood were a continuation of most of the work I had observed in museums, galleries, and in printed resources. I approached the wood block in the same manner that my peers and predecessors in fine art had. Form, volume, and negative space were the aesthetic tools by which I generated carvings and constructions. My subject matter shifted as my interests and inspirations found influence through new experiences and research. A big shift for a while was to create works that referenced my indigenous heritage, seeking to create works that would be considered exemplary works that would have been found in villages prior to outside influences while addressing the aesthetic concerns of contemporary fine art. This approach presented many challenges that I continue to explore in my work.

            In January 2006 I had a dream where I was looking at a body of works in a gallery where the artist had approached wood in a manner much different than I had considered in my work. In addition to the other concerns that a sculptor would address the works incorporated the wood grain as an important aspect of each piece. The visual effect was somewhat parallel to the attention a potter would give to the glaze on a clay vessel but the organic quality of the wood piece was already in the raw material. It would be up to the artist to remove the wood much like with lapidary work where the jewel is found inside the raw stone. Many of the pieces in the dream were designed so there was no base or set view point with which the viewer was limited in how to approach the piece. The pieces had no base so they could be turned about and viewed in which ever direction the person chose.

            As soon as I could start using this stimulus as a starting point I returned to the studio and began creating pieces that were inspired by this dream. The added demand that the wood grain become an important part of the visual dynamic was challenging. At times I felt like I was carving abstract paintings from the wood. With ten years of work with computer generated art through the use of fractal programs, I found an organic source of material where I could create works that were as interesting as those I had been using the computer to create. A synthesis has started to emerge between these initial pieces and the work I have done in the past, so the wonder continues to emerge from the process.

2007 Oliver Loveday

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Revised: May 10, 2016