Michael Bamberger
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My sculptures are inspired by four decades of travels in Africa, Latin America and Asia. This also stimulated my interest in working in wood - one of the primary materials used by artists in these regions. Wood is an exciting material to use, both because finding good material is an adventure in itself, and because each piece has a unique form that dictates what can be created. You live with a large piece of wood for several years while it dries, and during this time you come to know its weight, the texture of its grain and its shape - all of which provide hints as to the figure that is larking inside waiting to be carved. In Latin America I had the luxury of easy access to mahogany, while in Washington D.C. the powerful storms provided a steady supply of recently downed white oak.

Wood sculptures were widely used to understand and seek to control the deities, spirits of the forest and the primal forces of nature; as well as to represent the cycle of life. Slaves from West Africa brought with them to the Americas their religion and its expression in wood, and the masks and figures of the Brazilian macumba, the Haitian voduo and the dancing devils of Venezuela can all be traced back to their African roots - but with the added influence of European religious art. I have tried to capture this creative sprit through masks, naturalistic and abstract figures and wall sculptures.