Over the past three decades, artist John Bisbee has dedicated his creative work to the medium of nails. Recent artwork includes several large installations that transform the stiff, architectural material into writhing organic shapes. “Out of the Garden” seems to reference the Biblical tale, with an enormous snake piercing the Fuller Craft Museum‘s wall with its fangs and a fruit-laden tree nearby.
People tend to think of artists in one of two ways: either they confuse them with their art, or they find them curiously unlike it. Sculptor John Bisbee is both.
His personality explodes with thorny contradictions like the large, mind-boggling installations he creates from 12-inch steel spikes, or nails. Sometimes his work, and life, unfold in highly disciplined explorations. Driven to dwell in the physicality of geometric form, Bisbee will spend hundreds of hours in his studio painstakingly welding spikes into repetitive shapes. They congeal into perfect spheres, or become triangles snaking across the floor in elegant ridges.
Other times, it’s as if he is obsessed with some secret molecular vision. The spikes cling to walls and floors in tangled clumps and loops. He amasses them in one space, only to reconfigure them another way in another site. However assembled, they have a certain perfection, giving the viewer the tantalizing feeling of having glimpsed and almost understood some basic substructure of the universe.
“Infinity Pool,” a circular wall installation, features larger spikes at the outer circumference that shrink to smaller nails toward the center, lending a dramatic sense of depth to the two dimensional work. Bisbee, who is based in Maine, has displayed his work across the northeastern US, and his upcoming 2018 show will be at the Center for Maine Contemporary Artin Rockland, Maine.
John Bisbee (born 1965) is an American sculptor living and working in Maine. He is an art professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Bisbee received his B.F.A. from Alfred University and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. Bisbee’s solo museum exhibitions include the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, and a mid-career retrospective at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine in 2008.
Bisbee is a recipient of a 2006 Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. He has also received a Maine State Individual Artist Grant (The Rappaport Prize) administered by the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, as well as both the Purchase Prize and the William Thon Jurors’ Prize through the Portland Museum of Art Biennial Exhibitions that he has participated in.