Although primarily known as a sculptor, Walter May’s practice has also included drawing, installation work, and digital photography. He has a substantial record of solo exhibitions as well as numerous invitational and group exhibitions at the regional and national level. International activities have included the production and/or exhibition of work in Warsaw, Poland, Shanghai, China, Normandy, France and Reykjavik, Iceland. May has also participated in the Brazier’s International Artists Residency, England, Prairie North, Grand Prairie, Alberta and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, California. He has been the recipient of several Canada Council and Alberta Foundation for the Arts grants. May graduated with a BFA from the University of Alberta in 1971 and an MFA from the University of Regina in 1977. He is a permanent faculty member at the Alberta College of Art + Design, teaching predominantly in the sculpture program.
“The works comprised of wooden handles inserted into cut branches, trunks and roots of various trees were generated with a system of constraints. I resolved that all of the handles must be made of wood, and must come from tools that have been used, broken or abandoned. The natural wood must be deadfall or windfall from the forest or prunings and cuttings from urban parks and gardens. The handles were also only to be inserted into the “tree” where a branch or limb had grown. In this way, the anatomy of the tree determines the placement of the handles. The result might be seen as an odd map or diagram or perhaps a mutation of what was there before, with the handles as some kind of strange growth. Many of the objects and materials that I work with are thought to be dysfunctional, no longer useful, or at the very least, underappreciated. By using these kinds of things I hope to redirect our understanding of the objects, from things that we are only able to see as utilitarian or as a resource, to something that can carry meaning, act poetically or tell a story.”
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