Name: David Harry Grodzinsky-Rogers
Year of birth: 1960
Born and raised: Long Island, New York
It was in the fall of 1990, while staying on a cousin’s farm in Vermont’s Green Mountains, that I encountered a maple sapling bent over from a previous winter’s ice storm. There was something about the curvature and posture of this particularly ravaged tree—a backbone to a large beast, perhaps—that suggested a new life
for the tree. Using dried branches and different varieties of tree saplings, a “dinosaur” sculpture emerged in twelve inspired days.
This first large-scale branch construction sculpture encompassed and crystallized all of my previous work and life experience. It would forever transform my perception of what could be conceived and created with all-natural materials.
At the age of thirteen I had learned to weld and built abstract steel-welded sculptures using salvaged car parts and other found scrap materials. By age fifteen, I had begun experimenting with found forest materials. Using dry branches and rope-lashing techniques I assembled different kinds of abstract structures. Ironically, at this early stage I had already steel-welded my first insect sculptures. These pieces included a
dragonfly and a housefly.
Worked as an apprentice to a builder/restorer of
wooden sailboats and cabinetmaker. Performed
house carpentry on historic Victorian age homes on Long Island’s Gold Coast. Also did stints as cabdriver, magician’s assistant, actor in Shakespeare summer stock, and sailboat-delivery crewmember on the
Using only natural materials, became involved in a serious devotion to rustic design. Began designing and constructing many different styles of rustic furnishings and garden structures employing different kinds of trees and techniques. Developed a very ornate bent-sapling construction style named “Victorian Rustic”.
Completed a series of branch and sapling construction “dinosaur” sculptures. Also continued to build many other rustic works.
First conceptualized the idea and early designs of what would become the Big Bugs.
Combining all the materials and techniques of rustic construction and new engineering ideas, created the first ten sculptures of the Big Bugs exhibit. These sculptures included four different subjects: Ants, Praying Mantis, Spider and Web, and Dragonfly. The exhibit debuted at the Dallas Arboretum in the summer of 1994. The success of the Big Bugs continues to pose a formidable challenge. An intense and laborious experience of creative inspiration, discovery and invention, the Big Bugs exhibit now comprises 40 sculptures with 14 different subjects.