John Byrd

Associate Professor, Sculpture and Extended Media
MFA, University of Washington
Phone: 813.974.2360
Office: FAH 257


John Byrd is a sculptor working with clay, taxidermy, cast plastic, and other media. His visual language is that of autonomous, decorative art objects (figurines, trophies, souvenirs). Within a domestic space, he’s intrigued by the ability of an encapsulated aesthetic to establish, defy, and challenge characteristics of culture. As a reflection of his own upbringing, he’s drawn to the challenge of taking disparate materials and cultural references, that when submitted to finely crafted and obsessive dedication, can exceed the assumed limits of either its media or class.

Byrd builds whimsical constructs, purely decorative pieces that are almost pretty. Our initial response might be to dismiss this work as something from the crafts tent at the state fair, but it is hard to look away. In one sense, we feel we know what we are seeing—the pieces are realistic and recognizable, the scale toy-like but proportional. Byrd combines animals that were once alive, but no longer are, with elements that frame or build “story” around them. Through the plasticity of finely detailed clay, the observer tries to build a logical construct. We know the work bears a larger statement.

John Byrd has had numerous exhibits at New York City’s Garth Clark Gallery - the nation's most prestigious ceramic arts gallery. He received his MFA from University of Washington in 2000 and his BFA from Louisiana State University in 1997.