Mixed Media Sculptures: Michael Alm forms lifelike animal sculptures from carved and shaved wood

Seattle-based sculptor Michael Alm form exact animal sculpture from carved and shaved wood, frequently including realistic features, such as, glass eyes to finish the anatomical studies. The works imitate the natural gestures of the animal he sculpt, for example, “Jack Rabbit (Lepus Californicus),” which catches the animal mid-stride.

By exhibiting the animal in movement we are better ready to see the tension explored through thin wood strips that effortlessly crossover and under one another like muscular fibers. “The holes in the vaneer accentuate the tension in the form while lightening the visual weight of the animal,” he tells worldartreview. “In this piece (Jack Rabbit), I’ve featured the elements which contribute specifically to the animal’s movement and wiped out any excess. Therefore, the forms looks both strong and fragile much like the animal itself.”

Alm is also a furniture maker by trade, and the byproducts of this work serves as the bulk of the material for his sculptures. After milling wood he has plentiful strips to reuse in his sculptures. “These strips are extremely flexible and when layered up they remind me of muscle and sinew,” he continues. “The more I played with this material, the more I realized the amazing number of ways it could be used.”

“Jack Rabbit (Lepus Californicus)” “Jack Rabbit (Lepus Californicus)” Michael Alm “Jack Rabbit (Lepus Californicus)” Michael Alm “Jack Rabbit (Lepus Californicus)” Michael Alm “Jack Rabbit (Lepus Californicus)” Michael Alm “Jack Rabbit (Lepus Californicus)”

You can view more of Michael Alm work on his website and Instagram and get a behind-the-scenes look at how he constructs his sculptures on Youtube.

About Michael Alm

Michael Alm is a Seattle based mixed media sculptor. His lifelike and intricate animal anatomy studies address wildness, native nature, and the dynamics of animal movement. Each sculpture is imbued with his passion for wildlife and anatomy. As much as Alm’s work is about animal physiology it is also about the presentation of the specimen itself. His sculptures take cues from scientific models, and taxidermy dioramas, and extrapolate what makes the forms dynamic, interesting, and informative. Wood shavings, veneers, and carved elements, are used as surrogates for the fur, sinew and bone. In much the same way naturalists find ways to preserve and reanimate specimens, Alm uses the tools at his disposal to find methods that effectively represent these creatures and create a sense of wonder around them.

Inspired by biology, natural history, and exploration, Alm spends much of his time researching animal anatomy, and reading biographies of the naturalists who have expanded this field. His work is deeply inspired by his time spent studying in the mammals collection at the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington.

Alm’s work has been featured in a number of nationally recognized galleries including Roq La Rue Gallery, Hellion Gallery, and Modern Eden Gallery as well as the Bellevue Art Museum. Alm holds a BFA in sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis.

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