Eric Pesso

A tree falls in Brooklyn.  Sometimes that tree is harvested by a craftsman who recycles it into something completely new.  Prospect Park and the streets of Ditmas Park are the sources from which I harvest the oak, maple, sycamore, ash, and other species that are the raw material for my work.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn and except for a few years out of town, I have resided here all of my 67 years.  I attended PS 190, George Gershwin JHS, and Thomas Jefferson HS, all in East New York; and I graduated from Brooklyn College with both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Mathematics.  Symmetry and geometry are clearly the cornerstones of much of my work.  There is a beauty and clarity in mathematics that I try to uncover.  I currently make my living as a computer programmer. 

 My artistic goal is to translate abstract ideas as elegantly as I can in my medium of choice - wood.  Each piece is carved by hand from a single log with chisel, mallet, and various finishing tools.  It’s as if to say, “Here is this solid hunk of organic mass, these are my boundaries, what’s the best I can do with it?”  Starting with a very simple model in either clay or wire, I select a log whose size roughly corresponds to the model.  I avoid logs with unusual shapes which might suggest a form within, preferring the blank canvas of simple, straight-grained, unblemished sections of a tree. The model is used only as a guide in the initial rough carving; it is discarded as soon as I begin to visualize the emerging sculpture within. 

I am a largely self-taught artist with very little formal art education.  Through my late 20’s, I had little interest in art at all, much less in creating it.  It was only in the mid 1970’s, after being introduced to the work of Jose de Rivera and Naum Gabo, and later to Moore, Brancusi, Arp, and others, that a desire to create took hold of me.  I took one sculpture class at Brooklyn College and two others at the Brooklyn Museum Art School.  I was fortunate to have taken a carving class with master stone and wood carver Masami Kodama, who took me under his wing, invited me to work in his studio for two years, and taught me everything I know about wood, tools, and the techniques of carving.  I am forever indebted to him.

For various reasons, by the late 1970’s I stopped carving almost entirely.  It was only in the late 1990’s, after an interruption of 20 years, that the need to carve again returned.  I have been carving ever since and plan to do so for as long as I have the strength.