John McCarty was born in Washington, DC and is a long time resident of Virginia. He received his MFA from Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn, NY. His first one-man show was held art the Root Art Center of Hamilton College in 1969; other one person shows have been held in Germany, Pittsburgh, PA, Durham, NC, Baltimore, MD, and several in Washington, DC. His awards include a Fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and a Virginia Commission for the Arts Artists Fellowship. McCarty is currently an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of Maryland.
McCarty’s work is about ambiguity and he rarely directly explains his art. When asked about it, he has been known to reply with a poem – the essence of metaphor. He prefers to leave it up to the viewer to discover the magic of his work. For Soft Rime he gives us some provocatively poetic hints:
“I would like Soft Rime to be seen as both something in the landscape and something of the landscape. Having watched this piece during all weathers and seasons when it was in my front field here in the Virginia Piedmont, I am struck by the interaction of the sculpture and where it sits. This connection to the landscape is most apparent in the low light of early morning or late evening, when the metal structure disappears and the glass becomes a floating line of light, akin to frost, mist, or reflection off water. The hard steel and glass of the piece are far from pastoral. Yet the metal becomes elusive and ephemeral both through the fragility of its parts and the moiré patterns produced by their layering, and the translucent glass line echoes the horizon as it changes with the light. On reading the prospectus [for the Griffiss Park exhibit] I was intrigued by the mention of the park’s rolling hills, meandering streams, and clearings on wooded vales.’ The possibility of this sort of site was a strong incentive to make this particular sculpture available for exhibition in the park in Rome.”
The material contradictions of Soft Rime: delicate steel mesh and solid glass blocks; fine wire supporting transparent solids; industrial objects that are transfigured by their surroundings are the essence of McCarty’s poetry.
McCarty’s was introduced to Sculpture Space in 1978 on a visit with John von Bergen who took him down to the studio. “I spent a week in which I worked with an intensity and concentration I had never before experienced, and produced five pieces. Working at Sculpture Space was a great revelation to me. That first week, despite the leaks and the puddles on the floor, remains perhaps my most enlightening and concentrated sculptural experience. To be in a place that was all sculpture, all the time, with a generous and stimulating company of artists working intensely was an illuminating watershed in my profession.”