Artist StatementI am fascinated with the visual signs of aging and impermanence, both in myself and in the world around me. I love walking around buildings that are falling apart. I spend hours looking at broken cars in junkyards. Back in my studio I use rusty steel, fibers, polymer clay and objects found on my farm to create abstract sculptures that explore my feelings about the change, decay and destruction I observe. Rust has become my muse and my medium. 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 rusty objects and the only way to capture it is with the camera. I zoom in on the textures, colors and patterns of decay that aren’t easily apparent. The design elements come together to create a sense of drama and mystery which delights me. And, in turn, these photographs inspire me to create new ephemeral sculptures that speak to man’s desire to postpone decay and destruction.
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 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.
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. Her public installations can be seen across the country.
After attending a bio-art residency at the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2015, Virginia began to work on abstract sculptures. She created a series of large vessels out of steel and woven natural fibers. She also builds temporary installations and exhibits them in public places like the arts building of one of the local community colleges. Currently, her three dimensional forms focus on the theme of impermanence and decay, using rust as a medium.
Throughout her life, Virginia has played with photography as a means of documenting her life. Beginning with her first real camera (an Olympus OM-10), she has kept a photographic journal of everything from her travels around the globe to the nature she finds in her own backyard. In the past year, Virginia’s photography has taken on a more central role in her artistic vision. She has taken classes at the International Center for Photography which has helped her focus on using the camera to create permanent representations of the rust she finds in her studio and out in the world.
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.