Sam Perry’s carved wood sculptures are testaments to the passage of time and are imbued with a respect for craft and precision. Sourced from fallen trees, the wood has already lived a lifetime before Perry begins transforming it into sculpture. With patience and precision, Perry carves, sands, polishes, and splines with an awareness of the material’s history and a desire to “find” the sculpture hidden within the bole. “Looking at a fallen tree is like observing a person and wondering about their past,” says Perry, a sentiment reflecting both his careful consideration as an artist and his deep reverence for his chosen material.
The temptation to anthropomorphize is strong when looking at Perry’s sculptures, and becomes profound in the context of the breadth of his work. The grounded solidity of the most recent pieces feels mature, settled, close to the earth; they are often self-contained, inward, and reflective. This is evident in loops curving in on themselves, melding together to form autonomous units, and in individual forms overlapping to create new ones. This differs from the sense of searching found in some of his earlier works which tend to reach outward in questioning gestures to the space around them. While the investigation continues, a sense of maturity has been realized through time and experience.
Sam Perry was born in Kailua, Hawai’i where he worked as a child in his father’s canoe shop. Originally working in ceramics, he received both his BFA (1986) and MFA (1990) from California College of Arts and Crafts. After graduating, he took a position as studio assistant to Viola Frey, which he maintained for over 20 years. His sculptures are included in the collections of the di Rosa Preserve and the Runnymede Sculpture Farm. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.