“You could say I’ve been an artist all my life,” says Laurel Peterson Gregory. It’s true, though she might not have called herself that for a while. She was a mechanic, a master electrician and a building official before becoming a sculptor. For Laurel, one art lead to another.
Laurel attended Humboldt State University in Northern California for Industrial Arts and worked for years in that field before taking an interest in art in 1993. She started studying classical figurative sculpture and experimenting with different mediums and styles, and by 1994 was showing her work professionally.
The sculptor’s first works were varied in medium and subject matter. She experimented with figurative bronze reliefs, raku-fired ceramic wall fountains, mixed media works in ceramic and copper, and abstract ceramic-and-steel sculptures. The common thread was their impeccable quality, a result of the skills she’d gained from her past jobs.
Nowadays, the artist has turned most of her focus on a rather adorable subject: animals. From her home in the foothills of Colorado’s Front Range, she sculpts abstracted bronze creatures that dance on their hind legs. Bears bump, poodles twist and bulls engage in a “Wall Street Waltz”.
“I minimalize reality, stripping away non-essentials to reach the essence of whatever it is I’m sculpting,” Laurel says. “Although my form is now highly stylized, I still rely on the fundamentals.”
Laurel’s process is classical in its devotion to the idealized figure. She approaches each piece as an engineer would, creating hundreds of photographs and sketches of the animals before casting them into dynamic motion. These creatures might be performing impossible feats, but their bodies look elegant and their dances effortless.
It’s a task that could only be accomplished by an artist of all trades.