Following the unique trajectory of wood sculptor Michael Petersons work over the past twenty years, this exhibition traces the evolution from his early lathe turned bowls to his current, revolutionary sculptures devoid of the lathe. Over 30 sculptures, inspired by the geographic environment of the Pacific Northwest, will be on view at Bellevue Arts Museum
from April 9 through September 20, 2009.
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 out 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 and in so doing, their grain patterns are heightened creating the sensual textural qualities for which Peterson is known. He then smoothes the edges and sometimes bleaches the pieces prior to layering them with multiple subtle coats of pigments which he often times wipes away to create the illusion of depth – much the same way painters do when using chiaroscuro techniques. Some of the sculptures are composed of individual hollowed-out units that when stacked vertically are reminiscent of how waves would toss driftwood into unpredictable positions on the beach.
"Evolution | Revolution honors Peterson for his organic abstract forms, including elements reminiscent of birds, stones, driftwood and landscapes – all referring to the natural, physical realm while quietly emanating a deep sense of spirituality,” says co-curator Michael Monroe. More than 20 of his most recent sculptures will be on display adjacent to nearly 15 earlier works consisting of lathe-turned, bowl-like forms to contrast and highlight Peterson’s artistic progression over the past 20 years.
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. Peterson’s work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions over the last 20 years, and can be found in public collections throughout North America, including: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte, NC; Craft & Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA; and the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC among others.