Michael Peterson


‘The unity and simplicity of the sculptural forms [Michael] creates allows them to serve as compelling visual metaphors for the essential order and clarity desirable in a balanced life.’  Michael W. Monroe, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Bellevue Arts Museum.


Michael’s monumental sculptures are inspired by the geographic environment of the American Pacific Northwest. His abstract pieces are powerful expressions of sculptural form and texture, which reflect the artist’s reverence for the natural world.


Michael’s selection and sourcing of wood is a significant step in his process of making. Every few months, Michael and his wife Jean make the 500-mile journey from their home on Lopez Island to Southern Oregon to find the perfect pieces of Madrone Burl wood. He comments that, ‘I’m committing to this material. I don’t want somebody to just send me wood – I really have to make that connection.’ The artist’s bond with his material is augmented in the studio; he spends months working with the pieces, using a range of tools, such as chainsaws, gouges and chisels to hollow out and develop forms that warp in the drying process. Once the wood is dry, Michael uses special surface treatments to draw forth the organic and elemental drama of the grain of the wood. He experiments with spatial relationships between the forms in his collection until he finds the perfect balance for his powerful assemblages. On other occasions, Michael discovers a form with a singularity of character that naturally exists on its own as a sculptural piece.    


Michael’s work has been exhibited in group and solo shows throughout the USA, including Craft Spoken Here at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Revolution in Wood at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. In 2009, his major solo exhibition Michael Peterson: Evolution/Revolution was held at the Bellevue Arts Museum, WA. The artist’s work can be found in the public collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, USA; the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, USA; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, USA; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, UK.