Bob McCormack's "The Farmer" is our featured artwork for April 2009.
Bob McCormack was born in the Upper Cumberland where he attended high school. His career took him away, but when he retired in 1986, he returned to the Upper Cumberland and resumed living on the Calfkiller River, surrounded by trees and loggers.
Everything about the Upper Cumberland Region inspires his sculptures. “Most of my ancestors were born here shortly after the American revolution. My paternal and maternal great grandfathers were Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. This is the only place I feel naturally at home.”
Self-taught, he began by sculpting wood in 1975 while living in Indiana, making bowls and pet effigies to give to friends.
“I have always used gouges and mallets to rough out the larger pieces; power tools for grinding and rough sanding; countless hours of hand-sanding for the finish. I look for tree parts that are injured or twisted or scarred in some way. I hope to postpone by a few hundred years their ultimate return to dust by making something beautiful to be enjoyed for generations. I follow loggers and pick through their "trash" wood in my search for appropriate wood to sculpt.”
Bob was juried in to TACA, Foot Hills, and Southern Highland craft guilds where he has had a number of shows. He has also had shows at several galleries and at the Appalachian Center for Crafts.
“Two years ago, Dollywood bought 28 of my pieces. I have "trained" loggers and other friends to spot the kind of unusual wood I like to use, and sometimes a wonderfully odd piece of raw material is dropped off in my driveway.”
"One friend told me about a Box Elder tree growing through an abandoned cultivator near a fence about a mile east of the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport. The tree had incorporated into itself substantial amounts of the metal cultivator. With a backhoe, I dug up the whole thing and brought it home. I had already spotted what would be the farmer's elbow resting on one wheel of the cultivator. Everything about the sculpture hinges on that elbow! This means that the farmer's hat had to be made in the area of a three-pronged crotch of the tree.”
Bob worked on The Farmer for three years before displaying it in the new White County Heritage Museum in Sparta. You can catch more of Bob’s work at the Appalachian Center for Craft, the Magical Muse in Cookeville and the Bennett Gallery in Knoxville.
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