Peter McFarlane

Peter McFarlane | Artist at Steffich Fine Art

I am a conceptually based sculptor, mixed media and installation artist. I also draw and paint often recycling images I have found or have seen in my head. To me, waste is just lack of imagination. This belief carries beyond the boundaries of my art production and permeates most aspects of my life. Everything I encounter presents possibilities for my art; from obsolete circuit boards to my father’s shoe, to broken chainsaws and old ice skates, all materials present a possibility to resolve an idea. Most of my home and studio, and much of everything in them, is recycled. I’ve always had a voracious imagination along with a driving desire to make things. Thus, used objects have pared my options down to a workable, manageable level. No object is beyond artistic merit, meaning and metaphor–so why ‘waste’ it? The materials of my work are connected intrinsically to my ideas, be they tailored beyond recognition or left as found. Each piece I make resurrects an object as an idea specific to the material and the meaning inherent in its use. 

Sometimes I have tried to restore the landscape by removing objects from one environment and placing them in another: a recycling of objects and meaning, of “landscrap” into landscape. Either way, the object comes clad in its history, and sits in its own metaphorical world. When the object is removed to this new place, I can thereby underscore how fluid, how provisional, those meanings are. What inevitably fascinates me is the process of transformation itself. Connections are implied, broken, renegotiated; metaphors jostle for attention; meanings accumulate. The smallest strand of scrap wire can have meaning if properly placed. I’m astounded and often appalled by the enormity, variety and volume of the new and used manufactured materials and natural objects which are available to me. Yet this abundance is the inspirational heart of my work. And though my work does not dent the waste created by the ever-present demand for the new, it has helped me justify my creative passion. I view these works, in part, as an attempt to slow the process down, if only symbolically. Still, the theme remains: something new is once again recycled from the old meanings that consciousness has left behind but not forgotten.

Print Bio