Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- Peter Oakley is a North Carolina-based artist who creates realistic-looking marble sculptures of everyday items.
- This is a marble sculpture of open Styrofoam takeout boxes stacked in a pile.
- Marble is generally associated with ancient sculptures of gods and goddesses and works by Renaissance artists.
- Many of Oakley’s sculptures depict ordinary objects that are used for a short period of time and then end up in landfills for many years. By sculpting them in marble, he gives temporary items a permanent form.
Peter Oakley is a stone sculptor who grew up in the North Carolina mountains. He is known for creating life-sized marble sculptures that fool the viewer’s eye. His sculptures include ordinary objects like bars of soap, egg cartons, and Styrofoam takeout boxes. Stack is a marble sculpture of Styrofoam takeout boxes that are stacked together. Styrofoam containers are not usually recycled, so they are used once and then thrown away. Oakley gives these temporary items a sense of permanence by depicting them in marble.
Marble is a durable material that can last for thousands of years. It is often associated with ancient Greek sculptures and works by Renaissance masters. Oakley says he likes to use marble because of these associations. These associations are contrasted, however, by the things he chooses to sculpt in such a durable medium. There is a sense of playfulness in his sculptures, but there is also a deeper meaning to consider.
While there is humor in my work, the humor serves to lead into some very serious lines of thought.
Oakley also sculpts objects from our recent industrial past, like sewing machines, typewriters, and cassette tapes. He considers these objects the “unsung heroes” of modern life. His sculptures explore the relationships people have with technology and the power that technology has over humans.
tags: NC art, NC artist, North Carolina, contemporary sculpture
Resources for Teachers:
- Read Peter Oakley’s artist statement.
- Read an article to learn more about Oakley and his work.
- Watch a video of the artist discussing his work.
- Read an article about the use of marble in art throughout history.
Resources for Students:
- Watch a video of Peter Oakley discussing marble as an art material.
- View other sculptures by Oakley.
- Watch a video of the artist talking about his work.