Oliver Clark





My great grandfather, James Clark, was an artist and a sculptor who designed and
directed ornamentation for many Gothic Revival churches in New York. I draw inspiration by
referring to the original drawings he produced to create his legacy of beautiful, enduring,
emotive woodwork.
My process for creating a new sculpture begins with rendering a freehand sketch of the
composition. A disparity emerges during the construction between the two-dimensional rational
plan and the three-dimensional object I intuitively arrange. The form becomes less dependent
on the drawn design and more seated in the visceral experience. I do not make an object for
some utilitarian purpose, but rather to pursue beauty. The sculpture is a mystery to be
experienced, not an analytical problem to be solved. As I rely more on instinct, I am invaded by
a strong sense of fear that the work will fail by not becoming visually cohesive. I attribute my
ability to overcome these feelings of doubt to God, guiding my hands and allowing me to
persevere. A rhythm within the components grows through creating an intrinsic visual harmony,
similar to a musical chord. When my hand errs, unforeseen creative energy penetrates the art.
The world is awesome and unsympathetic to my mistakes, so I find a way to use the intractable
cuts instead of restarting.
True joy comes from the never-ending process of endeavoring for mastery, achieving
more than your previous self could have fathomed. Just as Icarus soared too close to the sun
and faltered, my sculptures lunge and strive, but are physically restrained. Potential energy is
stored by the tension in the taut flemish twist strings that stress the straight lines of wood into
dynamic trajectories. These pieces when arranged in close proximity achieve a harmonic
resonance in the visual rays and planes imagined between the different sculptures. In the
Constructivist manner, the negative spaces created by the ambient volume are as important to
the structure as the physical members.
Wabi Sabi is a sense of beauty that accepts transience and the imperfections in life.
Often the wood that I choose is unfit for fine woodworking because it is seeded with knots and
checking. Rather than discarding the disfigured grain, I accentuate the weaknesses and make
them aesthetic focal points. The crafting of the components within the sculpture shows different
degrees of refinement. One part may retain the live edge of the tree, while other segments are
diverse in their smooth planed curves and shaped complex angles. Taken as a whole, the work
is a celebration of the beauty, flaws, giftings, and blemishes of that which is precious.