Artist's background


Growing up in rural Louisiana and being the son of a sharecropper, my survival skills developed in unique ways. We had a large family and my father demanded that we all develop skills. Alone with farming skills, we were expected to maintain and make repairs on some equipment and tools, in some cases, we had to invent tools. It was necessary for me to develop hand and eye coordination at an early age.

When the weather conditions where too wet to work in the fields, my brothers and me would pass the time and amuse ourselves by digging up red clay and build small models of the farm animals. Inside the house my mother and sister would make quilts by cutting pieces of cloth from old clothes and reconstitutes them into blankets. Being the youngest of the family, at that time, I was allowed visit to both sites frequently to check on the progress. My mother was also responsible for making most of the family's clothes. On occasions I would be allowed to accompany my father to the local blacksmith shop and have equipment sharpened. I was always fascinated when watching the smith transformed the hot metal into shapes. These informative years were the foundation of my process later as artist.

I began to fabricate in metals when I was a graduate student at Berkeley. I enjoyed working in large scale and I needed to work in a medium that was more durable than clay and wood. Several of my earlier, larger sculptures were fallen apart when I tried to move them. I could not afford to cast bronze and bronze casting didn't allow me enough freedom to be innovative during the process. I wanted the freedom to revise my concepts whenever the notion arrived. Many artists from the bay area who were fabricating by using geometric and found steel shapes had similar flavors. I quickly realized that I would need more personal forms to speak in my own voice. I soon discovered that once I had developed the basic welding skills, any shape could be built. This was an epiphany, and the beginning of my vocabulary.

Jean Paul Hubbard, first art professor.
John Payne – professor
John Scott – artist
Richard Hunt - sculptor