Gallery Guide: Andrew Fullwood, Allurement

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Andrew Fullwood:: December 5, 2014 - March 21, 2015 Mayer Gallery


Tuesday - Thursday & Saturday: 10am-6pm Friday: 12pm-8pm

Andrew Fullwood is patient, aware–careful. Perhaps these

are characteristics hewn over many years of clinical listening to his patients as they slowly unwind their tortured stories revealing the knots and sinew of their inner psyches. Perhaps they come to him more naturally, seeped in his DNA as the heir–apparent to five generations of furniture makers. Probably it is a combination of both inherited and learned skills that give Fullwood the patience to spend hundreds of hours on each of his sculptures. He reveals in wood the terror and the beauty of so many of the stories he has heard at that same time unraveling his own inner demons and desires. Mary Anne Redding, Curator

Artist’s Statement

Dream of the Blue Heron, 2014

I grew up with equally compelling interests in art and nature, the latter of which lead to a career as a physician. My interest in wood, a material with living texture, no doubt derives from my background in biology, but also from a family craft tradition spanning five generations of skilled furniture makers. Without formal training, I have gradually taught myself the craft. I am drawn to the challenge of giving physical form to unique shapes that appear first in imagination. I love the great material diversity of wood: each species has different colors, grains, and properties. My process begins with the harvesting of a promising log, then transforming that rustic cylinder of wood with chainsaws, chisels, rasps, and files into sculptural forms I am interested not only in the shapes of the rhythms and life cycles of living things, but also the shapes of our emotional responses to the natural world in which we evolved. I believe the archetypal imagery of nature is meaningful to us and relevant to the creative process. I also like to wonder about the “shapes” of specific moments, such as the bursting open of a seedpod. My sculptures also reflect my curiosity about our origins: organic, ancestral, and cultural. With my sculpture I want to generate curiosity and allurement, always with an element of surprise. I enjoy exploring both abstract and realistic forms, sometimes blended together, a style I refer to as “organic surrealism”.

Andrew Fullwood: December 5, 2014 - March 21, 2015 Mayer Gallery



Tuesday - Thursday & Saturday: 10am-6pm Friday: 12pm-8pm

Boone Fork Pod


(Beech, cedar, laurel, rhododendron, saplings cut down by beavers at Julian Price Lake)

I was very excited to be able to show at the Turchin Center because, having grown up in nearby Hickory, I consider these Appalachians my home. I wanted to create a piece especially for this show. Although the far off views and winding Blue Ridge Parkway are among the imagery that came to mind, the strongest imagery that surfaced when thinking about the Appalachians was more organic…derived from the micro-loveliness and the feeling for the world along the hikes through mountain meadows, and along rivers and ridges. There is a lasting impact from a heightened awareness of every root and lichen-covered rock, of every changing leaf in autumn, of every living thing along the way. Starting with childhood camping trips, the exuberant excitement of exploring this area imprinted artifacts of natural imagery in my mind. I love the ritual of returning with my own family now to the Appalachians several times a year, each trip saturated with memory of place and season. Our daughter’s middle name, Laurel, was chosen after the flowering tree that thrives in this area.



(Willow, fence) I worked on this piece with a heavy heart. It was completed recently

in honor of Walter Lawless, a lovely psychologist/sculptor friend. He died suddenly months after he proudly showed me this uniquely shaped willow log that he had harvested from his farm near Asheville, NC. His wife later graciously passed the wood on to me. Walter’s life’s work was dedicated to building resilience in others, how to make pearls from grains of sand, how to bend around obstacles, how to make strength out of weakness, how to move towards the light. This willow was determined not to let a fence interfere with it’s becoming a tree.

Autumn Pod

(Walnut, red oak base) Carved from a single log of walnut felled by Hurricane


Floyd. Completed in autumn with the changing seasons and life cycles on my mind, following a stay in Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The highland meadows and windy bluffs there were populated with diverse life forms in the midst of seasonal change. I was particularly interested in the autumnal drying and cracking open of woody seedpods and the final broadcasting of seeds. I imagined the internal tensions building up in the pods as they dry. I could walk these meadows for hours entranced by the goldening and lowering angle of sunlight and the sudden satisfying appearance of shapes created by the exposed trunks and branches of trees as the leaves fall.

Andrew Fullwood:



Dream of the Blue Heron

(Poplar, pigment) M y mind is inhabited by imagery of my emotional response to

nature, but the shapes surface often into clear forms. When watching a heron swallow fish whole, I started imagining its belly full of fish fins, with water currents passing around the bird, its prehistoric majestic liveliness perfected over millions of years, designed by nature to hunt, to kill, to survive. I wondered about the instinctual calculations it makes to adjust for the refraction of light in the water when spearing a fish (something I have never once been successful at). It is important to recognize that the environmental conditions over the ages that made it possible for the blue heron to thrive and be present today are the same that have allowed us to live concurrently beside it and bear witness to its beauty.

Living Totem


(Maple, padauk) The initial inspiration for part of this piece comes from an image

seared into my mind when I was five years old: On the way to the beach from Hickory, NC, my family stopped by the North Carolina Museum of Natural History in Raleigh where gigantic articulated whale skeletons dangled from the ceiling. The enormity of those bones, those massive jaws, the oversized vertebrae lit up my imagination like nothing ever had--a seismic awakening to the beauty of natural shapes in grand scale. My greatest desire thereafter was to find a giant whale jawbone full of teeth, and, as a child, I was certain I would. I like the idea of danger juxtaposed with tenderness....the way mother alligators gently carry their offspring in their ominous jaws.

Rhythm of Allurement


(Pecan, pigment ) From this single log of pecan, I wanted to weave a solid structure

rhythmically through itself to express a gesture of allurement, of nature’s intimate processes of desire. Or, as the poet Kahlil Gibran said, “Life’s longing for itself.” Dowels were later added to complete to texture the pod surface. In nature, each species has its own fascinating strategies of attraction, some obvious, some hidden and mysterious. Allurement, sometimes in rhythm with the moon or seasons, occurs at many levels: a display of color, a dance, a song or call, a scent, a response to light. What are the shapes of the impulses that make us feel alive? What persuades sea turtles to navigate thousands of miles across open ocean to the exact beach where they were born?

Sound of the Sea


(Maple) From a single piece of maple. As a child I walked for hours

down the beach, blissfully lost in marine imagery, searching for shells and treasures; couldn’t bear to turn back. This piece is about exploration, curiosity, the sound of waves echoing through shells.

Andrew Fullwood: Cesarean



(Walnut, redheart, bloodwood, primavera, ebony) A lot of mixed, strong emotions in

this piece completed following the cesarean birth of our first child: Feelings of joy and awe coupled with fears of potential harm or loss. Compelling images of that day showed up in various parts of this work--flesh pulled together by sutures, blood and vessels of the umbilical cord. This wood came from a huge walnut tree at least 150 years old, felled by a storm in Lexington, NC. It was alive during the Civil War, which, while carving, gets my imagination going about what life was like back then, only a few generations ago: No electricity, no cars, no computers. Horse and buggies. Steam engines. Whale oil burned in coastal lighthouses. Wooden toys, wooden gears, wooden teeth. Cesareans were different back then, too. So were the odds.



(Poplar, crape myrtle, redheart, pigment.) The activity of carving itself, especially

late into the night, can dramatically uncork a flood of unique imagery that is sometimes impossible to shut off. Nocturnally driven, the forms take on a life of their own: morphing, collapsing into one another, assembling, sprouting, dividing spontaneously. Treacherous forms search for harmonious cohabitation amongst nurture forms. A whale and a cocoon and pollen may all fuse together into one form.



(Maple, pigment) I’ve always been fascinated with cocoons and the mysteries

within, that magical chemical and structural transformation of metamorphosis. Same animal, modified, vastly different, more elegant. Still and corpse-like, but containing all the living complexity of the universe. I like to wonder what the transformation feels like. Does it hurt? Does it feel good? Are they awake? While carving, I wanted to feel the sense of entombment, of anticipation, the motion and the emotion of emergence, the unfolding from a cramped, restricted world into joyful boundless freedom.



(Poplar, red oak, redheart) Early on in this piece, I was moving towards a whale-like

composition and stained the exterior black. Nearly made a blowhole. I changed my mind. Sanded the black off. Possible self-portrait. A tendency towards scientific order does not necessarily integrate well with urges of random creative expressiveness.

Andrew Fullwood: Pollinate



(Spalted maple and walnut) In the plant world, there is the requirement that tiny

invisible specks, almost nothing, (pollen and egg) somehow unite, randomly brought together by bees, birds, or the wind. Successful randomness leads to perfection and order. Even enormous trees start off with this microscopic little act. Pollination is a grand attempt at connection, at continuance, a form of allurement. Without bees, no cucumbers. No wasps, no figs. No bats, no tequila. In this work, I wanted to capture the energy of the moment when life is crackling just below the surface, unseen forces at work.



(Walnut) From a walnut tree downed by a storm in Siler City, NC. The lady who

owned the property where this wood came from wanted me to cut down the rest of the of the walnut trees overhanging her house because the falling walnuts loudly smashing onto her roof repeatedly startled her to the point where her “nerves were tore all to pieces.”



Expecting I


(Maple) When I was a kid walking my dog in a field once, a surprised quail suddenly flew up right in front of us. My dog leapt up and caught the bird in midair. She left behind a nest of eggs which I took home and placed under a light. A few days later, the eggs hatched in my hand. (bleached Ambrosia maple.)

(Hickory wood (downed by Hurricane Fran), ostrich egg) There’s nothing more

interesting to me than the creation of new living things, the development of a creature out of almost nothing. Even after studying the biological world in great depth, I cannot yet grasp the wonder, the extraordinary complexity, the beauty and the improbability of life. I think about it all the time. Oddly, while working on this piece, I was mostly thinking about subjects that had little to do with an expecting form, mainly memories evoked by the strong scent of the hickory wood ( pungent, earthy, sharp): memories of helping my dad with my brothers harvest and split firewood, of being outdoors, of working with the men, of roughed up hands, of dry autumns and cold winters, of Richard Petty and Bobby Allison racing on the radio blaring in the back of the pickup.

Related Exhibition Events January

28th Turchin Center Lecture Series

Join us at the Turchin Center for a gallery talk led by artists Andrew Fullwood.


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