Look closely at Tom Eckert’s artwork because things are not what they seem. His effortlessly-draped fabrics and their gentle folds are not meticulously-styled photographs, but sculptures that have been crafted from wood. Using traditional techniques to carve, construct, and paint his life-sized pieces, they appear light and airy, like a gentle breeze could dismantle their arrangement. But, Eckert assures us the opposite and chooses woods that are known for their stability—helping to further his impressive illusions.
Eckert’s interest in fooling the eye dates back to his youth. “Since childhood,” he explains, “I have been curious about and amused by mistaken impressions of reality presented as part of my visual experiences.” One of his earliest memories was being in a car and “seeing” a wet road ahead that turned out to be a mirage. “The revelation that I was fooled, visually and intellectually tricked, stuck with me.”
Illusions remain the crux of Eckert’s creative expression with fabric at the center of its visual manifestation. “‘Cloth’ carved of wood has much different structural qualities than real cloth,” he writes. “When this idea is applied to my compositions a sense of the impossible happens—for me, magic.” And for us the viewer, a spectacular experience.