“I feel fortunate in my life that I found something that I love to do.” David Rogers, January 8, 2016
Meet David Rogers
David Harry Grodzinsky- Rogers
b. 1960, Long Island, NY
Even as a teenager, David Rogers had a love for making things out of wood. He often found deadwood and other materials in the forest near his home on Long Island, New York. He used them to build mobiles and tree houses. The artist still uses only found deadwood or wood that is harvested sustainably. In the early 1970s, at age thirteen, he began building his first works of art. David learned to weld and built sculptures using salvaged car parts and other scrap materials. The pieces were simple, but they satisfied his artistic intentions.
David is mostly self-taught. He took classes in ceramics, glassblowing, and woodworking.
Learning basic techniques helped him see the building process. Large welded steel dragonflies and houseflies were among his first sculptures. His first outdoor exhibition used rope-lashing techniques. David’s art has come full circle. He is back to the bugs!
Boatbuilder to branch bender to big creature creator. David spent several years working for a wooden sailboat maker and a cabinetmaker. He also found work restoring the wood in Victorian homes. At twenty-five David met a man who built rustic furniture. Inspired, David began creating furniture and garden sculptures out of trees. He decorated them with swirls from wood and small limbs. The artist let the branches tell him where they wanted to go. He called it “Victorian Rustic.” David found this creative self-expression more to his liking. It did not require the measurements needed to make a boat float, or make cabinet doors open and close. A magazine quoted the artist saying, “I avoid studying too much. I like to let my shapes evolve in a natural way.”
In 1990, David saw a maple sapling bent over from an ice storm. In it, he saw the spine of a beast. From dried branches and different types of young trees, a “dinosaur” emerged in the hands of the artist in twelve inspired days. The artist then knew he could build anything out of branches and trees. This first large piece combined all of his earlier work and life experience. It forever changed his ideas of what he could create using materials found in nature. In 1991, David Rogers developed those ideas and early designs that would become David Rogers’ Big Bugs.
The Artist Today
The artist was not a traditional learner. He was not good in school or sports like his siblings. Instead, David found peace in the woods near his home. As he focused on his artwork, he understood it came from “not fitting a mold.” And it became something much bigger! His art now teaches others about the importance of caring for our natural world. David also finds that his personal story connects with other non-traditional learners.