Virginia Sperry

Enjoying the sunshine
Enjoying the sunshine

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

My sculptural and photographic work revolves around the inevitable chemical reaction that happens when iron (in the form of steel) and oxygen meet. Oxidation causes steel to change, to become something other, something less. Billions of dollars are spent each year attempting to alleviate the effects of rust on our infrastructure. My husband, a car lover, despises rust and calls it a cancer.

I began working with steel in 2003 when I signed up for a metal fabrication class at the Maryland Institute College of Art. I learned how to use a MIG welder to create life-sized steel animals that would become outdoor sculptural installations. For the next thirteen years I struggled with how to protect these sculptures from the eventual deterioration of rust.  I tried powder coating my works, painting them, and using other harsh chemicals to delay the inevitable. I found that these surface treatments were ultimately unsuccessful in stopping rust. I realized that permanence was not possible. With a sense of relief, I decided to embrace oxidation instead of fight it.

I am fascinated with the visual signs of aging and impermanence, both in myself and in the world around me. Rust has become my muse and my medium. Using rusty steel, fibers, polymer clay and objects found on my farm, I create sculptures that explore my feelings about the change, decay and destruction I observe. Rust has its own life and each sculpture incorporates that life into its story.

Sometimes I see brief moments of unbelievable beauty in the transformational process of rust and the only way to capture it is with the camera. I zoom in on the textures, colors and patterns of rust that aren’t easily apparent. The design elements come together to create a sense of drama and mystery which delights me. And as I study these photographs I am inspired to use rust, paint and steel to create new ephemeral sculptures that speak to man’s desire to postpone decay and destruction.



About the artist

ARTIST’S BIO

Virginia Sperry grew up in a house full of art, music, dance and theater. A bachelor’s degree in theater, a year dancing at the Martha Graham School in NYC and a master’s degree in dance therapy preceded Virginia’s visual arts career. Her first foray into the sculpture started with polymer clay in 1990. Taking advantage of the malleability of the medium, she taught herself to weave colorful baskets and make miniature life-like animal sculptures and furniture. Virginia exhibited these works in multiple craft shows, including the ACC show in Baltimore, from 1990 to 2003. During this time she owned and operated Winter Moon Designs, a contemporary craft and art gallery located in Ellicott City, MD.

In 2003 Virginia learned to weld in a metal fabrication class at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Initially assuming that steel is strong and difficult to manipulate, she soon found that she could create fluid sculptures using this material. Trained in observing the movement of living creatures and feeling a deep connection with the animal world, Virginia created amazingly life-like bears, giraffes and other beasts. From 2005 to 2014 these animals were installed in several cities around the country, including Sioux Falls, SD, Eau Claire, WI, and Castlegar, BC. Currently, Virginia is working on a commission for the Carroll County (MD) Arts Council. Her Great Blue Heron will be installed in a local park in March of 2018.

In addition to making her animal sculptures, Virginia is experimenting with using rust as a medium and making woven forms from rusty metal and fibers. She also spends time with her camera, taking abstract photographs of steel, rust and paint. Virginia’s sculptures and photographs speak to themes of aging and impermanence both in her own life and in the world around her.

Virginia lives and works on a six-acre farm outside of Baltimore, MD with her husband, two dogs and two cats. Many of her larger sculptures are scattered around her property, which is open to the community for public viewing twice a year. When not getting messy in the studio, Virginia can be found gardening, hiking, reading or traveling around the world in search of new experiences.



CURRICULUM VITAE:

Solo Exhibitions:

2017   Temporary installation of Paper Rocks, Horowitz Center, Howard County Community College, Columbia, MD

2010   Guest Artist, Off Track Art, Westminster, Maryland

Two Person Exhibitions:

2017   Rust Redux, Buickster Hall, Taneytown, MD

Commissions:

2017   Great Blue Heron, Commissioned by the Carroll County Arts Council. Placed in Piney Run Park, Eldersburg, MD (spring of 2018)

2009   Roam Around: Art in Public Places, Stamford, Connecticut

Juried Shows:

2016   Cartes Blanches, Delaplaine Art Center, Frederick, MD

2016   National Juried Show, Delaplaine Art Center, Frederick, MD

2015   Reach, Carroll County Arts Center, Westminster, Maryland

2012   Unleashed, Strathmore Mansion, Bethesda, MD

2010   Rejected to Perfected, Carroll County Arts Center, Westminster, Maryland

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2015   Bio Art Residency, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY

2014   Sculpture Walk, Castlegar, British Columbia

2013   City Art, Walking Sculpture Tour, Mankato, Minnesota

2012   University of Sioux Falls SculptureWalk, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

2011   Sculpture Tour, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

2010   SculptureWalk, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

2007   Sculpture installation, Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, Maryland

2007   SculptureWalk, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

2006   Sculpture installation, Unison Sculpture Garden, New Paltz, New York

2005   Strictly Sculpture, Carroll County Arts Council, Westminster, Maryland

2004   Alumni Show, Tang Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York

Commissions:

2009   Roam Around: Art in Public Places, Stamford, Connecticut

Residencies:

2015   Bio Art Residency, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY

Awards:

2013   Best in Show; Other Media for “Tundra”, City Art, Walking Sculpture Tour, Mankato, Minnesota

2010   Director’s Choice Award for “Tundra” SculptureWalk, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

2010   Best in Show for “Water Pump” Rejected to Perfected, Carroll County Arts Center, Westminster, Maryland

Public Collections:

2010   “Lioness with Cub” owned by the Sioux Falls Lions’ Club, on permanent display in the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Publications:

2004   “400 Polymer Clay Designs”, Lark Books, New York

1997   “Foundations in Polymer Clay Design” Krause Publications, Wisconsin

Education:

1992   MA in Dance/Movement Therapy, Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland

1984   BS in Theater Arts, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York