2nd Place recipient

Michael Ferris

The sculptures I create are portraits of my friends and family members. Constructed from reclaimed wood and informed by my own Middle-Eastern heritage, my work is surfaced with a reclaimed wood mosaic process inspired by the wood intarsia technique developed in Damascus Syria. My approach to this historical process involves the reclaiming of discarded wood, a method informed by my environmental concerns.

My father was a citizen of Lebanon. Even though I was born and raised in Chicago, my father felt that sharing with me his cultural identity was very important. My father would often take me to a Lebanese Maronite Church just outside the city of Chicago where he would teach me about our religion and how it had meaning for him. The Maronite religion is basically a form of Catholicism that is practiced in Lebanon so the church contained very beautiful wood statues of Mary, Jesus and other important icons from the religion. I recall feeling almost physically struck by the impact of these statues when I first saw them and I loved visiting the church and spending time with these sculptures in the years that followed.

To explain my work in the simplest of terms, it is a kind of combination between the statues I saw at the Maronite Church when I was young and the Middle-Eastern Lebanese tables I grew up with in my childhood home. I feel every sculpture I make personally connects me to my father, my memories of spending time with him at the Maronite Church, and my own heritage.