Michael Peterson: Evolution/Revolution

March 27, 2010 — July 3, 2010

Following the unique trajectory of wood sculptor Michael Peterson over the past 20 years, Evolution/Revolution traces the evolution from the artist’s early lathe-turned bowls to his current revolutionary sculptures, which are devoid of the lathe. Over 30 sculptures, inspired by the geographic environment of the Pacific Northwest, will be on view.

Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Peterson now resides on Lopez Island, one of the San Juan Islands in Washington, where he draws heavily from the surrounding environment. Turning, carving, sandblasting, bleaching and pigmenting the burl portion of trees, such as madrone, maple, grass tree, elm and locust, Peterson creates sculptural works of sheer beauty and purity. He starts with multiple wet chunks of wood, which are carved and hollowed out using chainsaws. As the pieces dry, they shrink and warp in unpredictable ways that heighten their grain patterns and create rich textures. He then smoothes the edges, and sometimes bleaches the pieces prior to layering them with multiple, subtle coats of pigments. He often wipes away these pigments to create the illusion of depth–much the same way painters do to create chiaroscuro effects. Some of the sculptures are composed of individual hollowed-out units that, when stacked vertically, are reminiscent of how waves toss driftwood into unpredictable positions on the beach.