For artist Jeffro Uitto, a walk on the beach is more than just a serene walk. It's an opportunity to forage for materials for his incredible, large-scale sculptures. Using driftwood he finds around the Pacific Northwest (specifically Washington state), he assembles the gnarled pieces into animals and birds. The smoothed strips of fragmented wood are put together like a puzzle; and when Uitto is done, they harness gestural energy reminiscent of a painter's brushstrokes.
Uitto’s creatures run the gamut of subjects. He has created the likes of horses, rhinos, eagles, Dungeness crab, and giraffes, but deciding on what animal he'll recreate is simultaneously easy and difficult. “I'm drawn to the magic of certain animals,” Uitto tells My Modern Met. “Eventually, if I get out of the way, it (the subject) will come to me. Like finding the right textures and shapes to inspire the idea or getting captivated by the beauty and energy of a certain animal.”
The work is also informed by the driftwood he finds during his long hikes. “It's always a balance on what and how I go about a project,” he explains.”Sometimes, the wood inspires the ideas, and sometimes I'll go on endless hunts for the perfect pieces, often working on several things in different stages.”
Although a laborious approach, Uitto has a great amount of gratitude for his process and where he lives. “Hunting and finding wood is half the fun and a ton of work,” he shares, “mostly in the winter when lots of rain and storms are pushing goodies out of the rivers.” It’s thanks to the unique beauty of the Pacific Northwest. “I love it more and more all the time. I grew up next to the ocean with the mountains nearby and never a shortage of inspiration and materials.”