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Q and A Session with Mike McKee

Q: How long have you been an artist, and more specifically, sculpting?

A: I have been an artist my whole life, since the time I was born, I just didn’t realize I was any good at it until I went to the College of Santa Fe in 2002. This is where I started sculpting and found stone carving. I got my first job as a sculptor doing foundry work in 2004. I started as an apprentice, learning from a great sculptor/ fabricator here in Santa Fe who ran Shidoni Foundry for many years. I have been lucky enough to work on some very famous artists’ works, almost from the very beginning. There is a close correlation between working on a bronze sculpture and carving stone, which is my passion.

Q: What inspires your work?

A: What inspires my stone carving is the pure enjoyment of creating something beautiful. Or at least creating something that I view as beautiful. I love the hunt for beautiful stone, I love using my hands and tools, and I love doing something that can be so incredibly difficult that no one with any sense would even think about taking on. Rocks can be very hard.

Q: What has your art taught you, professionally and/or personally?

A: Stone carving has helped teach me to be patient. So has my daughter for that matter. Not sure which takes more patience though.

Q: Can you describe your process from ideation to creation?

A: My process is very intuitive, and for me, is the freest way to create art. Very, very rarely do I start off with an idea. I use different characteristics of the raw stone to begin to build the composition. My freeform sculpting allows me to hunt for the final shape of the piece. I am always thinking ‘aesthetically pleasing,’ while creating a new piece. I want the piece to be beautiful, and I want to show off any amazing characteristics of the stone itself. I would be lying if I didn’t say that mother nature did most of the work in forming the natural beauty of the different rocks and minerals I work with. What’s exciting to me is never really knowing what the final piece is going to look like. I am also proud to say that everything I create out of stone is unique and original. This is important to me and I hope to keep this as a characteristic of my work in the future. Every sculpture is sculpted by hand, and finished by hand. I will spend days hand sanding a piece, hunting out every little scratch and blemish I can find, making sure it is as perfect as I can get it without losing my mind.

Q: What do you hope people take away from viewing your work?

A: It’s hard to say what I want people to take away from viewing my art, because I make my art for me. I do this because it brings me a joy that has only been shared with surfing. Strange right? Surfing and stone carving I can do every day, all day, without getting board, without wanting to stop. It’s amazing a kid with ADD can sit and do anything for as many hours as I spend with my rocks. It would be nice for people to be able to appreciate the amount of time and commitment it takes to carve stone. I hope to also expose people to various types of beautiful rocks and minerals that they might otherwise go their entire lives without seeing. Rocks and minerals have great energy, some believe they can even heal. The time I spend with my rocks could be considered therapy for me, and the best part is that they don’t talk back or tell me that I’m wrong. - Waxlander Gallery

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