St. Thomas professor’s work exhibited in Manhattan gallery

St. Thomas University fine arts professor Robin Peck’s newest collection of sculptures went on exhibit this month at CANADA art gallery in Manhattan, New York.


The collection, titled Crania, includes 12 pieces, all of which are the same size as a human head and are made out of lead, plaster and other materials.

Although the sculptures are roughly the same size, Peck says there’s no one theme to the exhibit. He says that he didn’t come up with the concept beforehand, it just came to be.

“When I make a sculpture there’s never any intention of making another one. After I did about half of them they looked like crania.”

Crania’s opening at CANADA was well received. Peck has known its owners for a while, thanks to many years of living and working in New York’s vivid art scene. He was the second official artist to ever showcase their work at CANADA, and has a strong connection with New York City’s downtown area.

Peck has been making sculptures since 1968, and says he can’t imagine himself doing anything else.

“I can’t think of anything better to do. I wrote a book and essays and I write for art magazines but it’s nowhere near as fun as making sculpture. I would be doing this if I didn’t sell them or if I didn’t exhibit them.”

Peck was born and raised in southern Alberta’s badlands, he remembers digging up dinosaur bones, something he believes influenced his sculpture-making significantly.

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

However making sculpture was an uphill battle for Peck from the beginning – the art world is subjective and money was tight for years.

“There’s probably 25 years of grinding poverty when I had to raise two children and pay for everything – I had no money at all. People in New York couldn’t understand it. When I said I didn’t have any money, they were thinking I was down to my last 10 to 20 grand. I had to borrow a hundred dollars [just] to get out of New York,” he says.

Peck’s parents didn’t approve of his decision to create art for a living, but he pushed on because he knew when it came down to it, this was his thing.

“It’s a tough world to get into. Art making is sort of its own reward. There are rewards even if you don’t make a lot of money.”

Peck hopes that collectors, whom he says aren’t many of in Canada, will pick some of his pieces up.

Ultimately, Peck believes it’s important that artists, no matter what medium, don’t stray too far from the art they love in hopes of expressing themselves.

“Sculpture is very physical and it’s very tactile. There’s as many kinds of sculptures as there is people in the world, and most of it is worth looking at.”

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