STU prof’s sculpture to be featured in Venice

Professor Robin Peck is a long-time featured sculptor in the global art scene. His works have been appreciated in places such as Belgium and New York, and now, one piece is heading to Venice, Italy.

Peck, who teaches in the Fine Arts department at St. Thomas University, will be featured in Imago Mundi’s “Great and North” collection shown at Palazzo Loredan. It’s a project featuring 759 artists from different Canadian communities and Indigenous artists of North America.

But Peck said the global exposure isn’t what’s important to him.

“It’s the kind of thing that’s only important to Canadians who have never had a show outside of Canada,” he said.

“The fundamentals to profiting in this entertainment industry are private property and ownership.”

With that in mind, Peck said his cranial-shaped sculptures — which are of high weight and even higher price — attract collectors who seek pieces of art that scream both power and beauty.

He described his audience as “those long dead and yet to come,” and the projects themselves are just as complex.

“The [sculpture] cores are anything from lead to stone that I laminate in multiple layers of materials from nickel and wool to wax,” he said, pointing to a piece of work nearby.

“That one there is three hundred pounds, and this could go for ten thousand.”

Art battles

While the “Great and North” exhibit in Venice is a great opportunity for the professor, who has taught visual arts at STU since 2005, he said the art scene at home is something he is still passionate about — or, rather, passionately frustrated with.

Peck’s wishes to move away from the N.B. scene stem from a nearly three-year back-and-forth battle with Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery, he said.

Peck had been awarded a Canada Council project grant to fund sculpture materials for a 2017 solo exhibition at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton.

However, deadlines for getting his “Crania” exhibit into the gallery had been pushed back multiple times since late 2014 with no success. Now, the works are being outsourced to a New York venue in a gallery titled “CANADA.”

Many of his other works have also been relocated to exhibits in the United States due to successful opportunities across the border.

“You can trust the Americans, all they care about is money,” Peck said.

“Crania” consists of over fifty individual sculptures that have a similar plaster, shellac and wax finish but different internal components. The works have done well in New York, Peck said, and continue to.

For that project, he said his goal was for his work to “be leaving the claustrophobic Irving plantation [in N.B.], and hopefully finding a buyer.”

Peck will carry on with his global expeditions in Venice until the “Great and North” exhibit ends on Oct. 29.

With files from Jared Durelle

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