Andrew Vallee

Artist Statement
As a sculptor working with wood I embrace the notion that this endeavor is a collaboration with nature. There is no blank canvas. Having a technical and aesthetic understanding of the material is essential. Trees live, breathe and move when they stand. When a tree falls and lands in the hands of a carpenter or sculptor that tree continues to breathe and move. Wood will expand and contract with its environment. 
Creatures and artifacts of the sea, sky and forest are frequent subjects of my work. The first step in creating my work is to seek to understand my subject as thoroughly as possible. Understanding proportion, scale and texture are critical. Attempting to understand the spirit is paramount. Of equal importance is selecting the material. Wood comes in a seemingly infinite variety of color, hardness and characteristics of grain. I make the decision about what wood I am going to use based on the subject matter I am going to portray. 
I balance precise replication and proportion, with subtle abstraction of form and texture. When carving I respond to the form as the sculpture develops. I simplify my subject into its most essential elements. A respect for subject and material are always kept in mind, if I succeed the spirit of a tree will have a second life. 
Much of my early childhood was spent wandering the hardwood forests of Pennsylvania. This connection with the natural world has informed my work for decades. I was raised in the celebrated artistic community of New Hope, PA. My childhood friend was the grandson of George Nakashima. The time I spent in Nakashima’s studio and home, and being exposed to his philosophies, has had a lifelong impact on me as an artist. 
At an early age I was recognized as a hardworking and prolific artist. I have maintained an active studio practice since the age of twelve. As a teenager my family moved to the Pacific Northwest. I continued to wander in greater forests with larger trees. 
I studied art while in university, graduating in 1996 with a fine arts degree. Upon graduation, I took a job as an apprentice to a master furniture maker. I learned a great deal about woodworking that has been a technical base for creating wood sculpture for which I am primarily known for today. 
As a young man I traveled from Northwest Washington to the Arctic Ocean of coastal Alaska. I traveled and lived in my truck, turning my campsites into makeshift outdoor studios. Working with materials scavenged from construction sites and creating artwork along the way. Eventually I settled in Edison, Washington, a tiny town of artists and creatives in the bucolic Skagit Valley, with my wife and two daughters.
My studio practice has always included painting, drawing, wood sculpting, installation and conceptual art. It has evolved to include  bronze and glass sculpture.
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