David Harry Grodzinsky-Rogers | b. 1960 | Long Island, NY
It was in the fall of 1990, while staying on a cousin’s farm in Vermont’s Green Mountains that I encountered a maple sapling bent over from previous winter’s ice storm. There was something about the curvature and posture of this particularly ravaged tree – a backbone to a large beast, perhaps that suggested a new life for the tree. Using dried branches and different varieties of tree saplings a “dinosaur” sculpture emerged in twelve inspired days.
This first large-scale branch construction sculpture encompassed and crystalized all of my previous work and life experience. It would forever transform my perception of what could be conceived and created using all-natural materials.
At the age of thirteen I learned to weld and built abstract steel-welded sculptures, using salvaged car parts and other found scrap materials. By age fifteen I had begun experimenting with found forest materials. Using dry branches and rope-lashing techniques, I assembled different kinds of abstract structures. Ironically, at this early stage I had already steel-welded my first insect dragonfly and a housefly.
Worked as an apprentice to a builder/restorer of wooden sailboats and cabinetmaker. Worked as a house carpenter on historic Victorian age homes on Long Island’s Gold Coast. Also did stints as a cabdriver, magician’s assistant, actor in Shakespeare summer stock, and sailboat-delivery crew member on the eastern seaboard.
A serious devotion evolved towards rustic design using all natural materials. Began designing and constructing many different styles of rustic furnishings and garden structurues employing different kinds of trees and techniques. Developed a very ornate bent-sapling construction style named “Victorian Rustic.”
Completed a series of branch and sapling construction “dinosaur” sculptures. Also continued to build many other rustic works.
First conceptualized the idea and early designs of what would become the Big Bugs.
Combining all the materials and techniques of rustic construction and new engineering ideas, created the first ten sculptures of the Big Bugs exhibit. These sculptures included four different subjects: Ants, Praying Mantis, Spider and Web, and Dragonfly.
The exhibit debuted at the Dallas Arboretum in the summer of 1994. The success of the Big Bugs continues to be an intense and laborious experience of creative inspiration, discovery and invention. The Big Bugs exhibit now compromises 40 sculptures with 14 different subjects.