Next Artists' Open Studio:

Next tour starts 11/29/2019

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November 29, 30 & December 1, 7 & 8 - 10:00am - 5pm
Be sure to check artists’ open dates before planning your visit!

Randall Nelson

Nelson Architectural Restoration

(860) 429-3830

40 Fisher Hill Rd.
Willington, CT 06279

Studio Map & Directions

Artist Statement

I have always loved to tell humorous stories and entertain people, especially through my artwork. My favorite subjects have always been birds and other animals, both real and imagined. My early training was as a wood carver and the focus of my work was making objects that combined wood and other materials. Most of my early sculptures were abstracts or simply depictions of animals with no larger message involved. Eventually, my desire to tell a story began to reassert itself and I started looking for new methods to illustrate my ideas as sculpture. Many of the pieces I am now making are more conceptual and lend themselves more readily to being depicted as large, multi-media installations. I find that I am often using animals as subjects to illustrate elements of the human condition and no matter what the subject, I have always tried to maintain that original element of humor in my work.

Artists Open Studio Dates

November 23, 24, 25 & December 1 & 2

Artist will be demonstrating

             Mr. Nelson’s early training as a sculptor was as a wood carver and the focus of his earliest work period, while in school, was on making abstract wood sculptures. After several years of doing abstract pieces he began making animals, combining carved wood and other materials such as old “found object” metal castings that would suggest an element of the piece, usually as the face of the animal. During this period he also started making carved furniture that incorporated ceramic elements he had made, all combined to tell a story. In recent years his style of production has diversified and his art has become more personal and more overtly political. Many of his more recent works are in the form of large installation pieces, designed to comment on an event or tell a specific story. However, no matter what the subject or method of production, he has always tried to maintain an element of humor in his art work.

             Much of his new work still features animal imagery, but he is now dealing with issues that would be almost impossible to do as simple wood carvings; topics such as world hunger, morality, family obligations, guilt and personal responsibility. These concepts are a challenge since they don’t lend themselves easily to interpretation or production as simple art pieces. In many ways, he finds this ”commentary art” more difficult to do than the earlier carved animals and cabinets.  

He earned a BFA in Sculpture from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, in 1974, then served a five year apprenticeship in woodcarving with Master Sculptor Toshio Odate from 1975 to 1980 and received an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College for the Arts in 2006. He has been an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of CT, Storrs; the University of Hartford, Bloomfield   and has also been Adjunct Faculty at Quinebaug Valley Community College, Willimantic and Middlesex Community College in Middletown.  

He has been a working artist for thirty years, teaching art courses while maintaining his own art practice and managing a sculptural restoration business specializing in the preservation of building facades, monuments and statuary. He has extensive experience in the different fields of sculptural production, including wood and stone carving, mold making, casting and metal working.

            As a restoration sculptor his company, Nelson Architectural Restoration, has worked on hundreds of decorative stone and terra cotta projects nation-wide, repairing monuments and buildings in New England and other parts of the country, including the brownstone Soldiers and Sailors Arch in Bushnell Park in Hartford, the famous brownstone McClellan Gate at Arlington National Cemetery and several restoration projects done for the City of Savannah, GA.

He has completed two public art projects in Connecticut. One was the commission to create eight 3’ high statues of historical figures for the tops of the flagpoles around the Old State House in Hartford, CT. Each figure was first modeled in clay, then a mold was made and the figure was cast in polyester resin and then gold leafed. The other was working with students to design and build a public sculpture as part of the Art in Public Schools Project for the Hall Memorial Middle School, Willington, CT for the CT Commission for the Arts.

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