Alan Carter

Artist Statement

Music, painting, and furniture design have all contributed greatly to my current means of artistic expression, sculpture incorporating turned wood. The trajectory of my career can be traced back to the age of 8 when I picked up a trombone in the grade school band. The fundamental essence of my work is a result of those decades immersed in one art form or another.

My approach to creating a piece is rooted in the knowledge, experience, and intuition I’ve absorbed over the past several decades. It’s not a conscious manifestation of these individual disciplines but the cumulative affect they have. My design process often begins with a flash, a fleeting image that locks itself in my subconscious. It can hang there, floating around the fringes of active thought until it demands more immediate attention. It can slowly squeeze itself out or arrive with a bang and I have to act on it, at least make a quick reference sketch to expand on later.

Triggers for these ideas come from surprising places; a photo, another piece of artwork, even the way leftover materials in my studio end up in a pile creating odd shadows or interesting shapes.

The work process itself tends to be open-ended. Even if I have a good idea of what I want, it can change dramatically as the piece takes shape. The textures and grain patterns of the wood, the physical act of shaping the various components, how subsequent parts interact, all play key roles in the final result. Color is becoming an increasingly important element. Having an open mind is absolutely essential.

My music experiences mainly involved playing in orchestras and jazz ensembles where you played the notes in front of you the way the conductor wanted with little opportunity for self expression. My painting centered on recreating a real scene as faithfully as possible, with a few nudges here and there to alter reality a bit and make it even more “real”. The creative part of the furniture I built was designing the pieces to begin with, but once I started on them, practical considerations meant following the plan with little deviation.

Creating sculptures draws on all this experience, but lets me be spontaneous, imaginative and very excited to see what happens next.