Perhaps artist George Peterson summarizes both his methodology and aesthetics best: "I channel a lot of destructive energy into my art." For his upcoming Shred / Grind / Carve exhibition—opening June 3, 2011, at Altered Space Gallery in Venice Beach—Peterson cuts, burns, paints and even re-stitches old skateboard decks into post-functional masterpieces that more closely resemble African art than they do found commercial objects. Throughout his process, Peterson unearths a well of cultural history associated with the sport his raw material hails from—the celebration of physicality, the mythification of scarring, and a skate and destroy ethos that honors the destruction of both vehicle and terrain—and yet the artist’s finished product is an elegant, hand-crafted piece of wall art, more museum object than skatepark detritus.
Peterson’s North Carolina studio is loud as machines and music whir while the artist works. Peterson insists that he hears and finds formal inspiration from this blending of elements—the harmonies between chainsaws and guitars or the polyrhythms produced by ax and drums. Peterson is likewise drawn to native cultures and the so-called primitive arts that express an intimate relationship, not unlike his own, between raw material, transformation, and finished product.
The artist has been utilizing found and recycled materials since the beginning of his practice—destroying them is a more recent development however. Born in the Southern California desert and currently living/working in North Carolina, Peterson has long been drawn to the native hard woods found locally. Early in his career he would aspire to a formal perfection in his work—turned wood bowls with an impossibly flawless finish—yet once, while under a time crunch to keep up with demand, Peterson errantly used unseasoned wood—and his first cracked appeared. He was instantly drawn to the warping and cracking, and was soon aggressively pursuing a new destructive, and ultimately creative, course that put his wooden pieces through a gauntlet of abuse that also includes scorching, painting and eventual re-construction.
The result of this process is evident in Shred / Grind / Carve, opening June 3, 2011, at Altered Space Gallery in Venice Beach, CA. Peterson’s works are included in celebrated collections internationally, including the Oval Office, Tom Ford, Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Boston Fine Arts Museum, and the Wustum Museum.