As artist Bayne Peterson sketches the voluptuous and sinuous shapes of what will become his vibrant wooden sculptures, he takes cues from organic movement. “I’m thinking less, ‘what does nature look like?’ and more, in a general sense, ‘what would nature do?’” he says. His geometric works echo both generative and reductive biological processes, bulging and surging in asymmetric forms that accentuate the relationship between negative and positive space.
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Evoking growth, replication, and deterioration, Peterson references geometric principles when structuring his works. He begins with an initial drawing, cuts dyed and raw wood, and then splices the segments into checked patterns, stripes, and radial motifs. Each work undergoes a hefty round of sculpting with rough hand tools like rasps and files before the soft, supple curves emerge. “My process (of) shaping and sanding feels very much like erosion, and I also think of my sculptures in relation to geology, with the layers of dyed wood being like layers of sediment,” he shares, likening the lines to topographic maps.
The resulting sculptures contrast the vivid patterns with the natural grain of the raw material, and many are comprised of two larger forms stacked or slotted together. Because Peterson prefers irregular motifs and undulating forms, the works shift in perspective depending on the position of the viewer. “One of the most fun parts of making sculptures for me is the challenge of making a static object seem animated,” he says, elaborating:
Sometimes I want it to feel like the viewer’s entire field of vision, and not just the object, is in motion, like looking at an underwater object from above the rippling surface…My ultimate goal is to push all these factors to a level at which the object begins visually to swim and in which the overload of information within the work is difficult to process all at once, like the experience of watching a flickering campfire or looking at a glitching pixelated digital screen.
For more from Peterson, who is based in Rhode Island, head to Instagram, where he shares a trove of sculptures and glimpses into his process.
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