Jerry McKellar - Interview
You wouldn’t expect to find a sculpture by a man who went to dental school on this year’s Sculpture Walk, but that’s exactly what you’ll get from sculptor Jerry McKellar. Brought up in the small town of Lake Chelan, Wash., McKellar was primarily a self-taught artist who was highly influenced by his travels, life experiences and nature. “Although I’ve never taken a formal art course, I’ve learned a lot over the years by visiting galleries and museums worldwide, interacting with my fellow artists, and a lot of experimentation,” he says.
“Blackfoot Upright Bonnet”, constructed of bronze and Blackfoot nation beadwork, is a magnificent sculpture that also expresses the culture of the Blackfoot nation. The sculpture, which stands 22 inches tall, was inspired by the design of the Blackfoot nation bonnet. “As far as headdresses go, the upright bonnet of the Blackfoot nation is quite unique, so I used its design in this bronze along with their typical beadwork,” he explains. “I enjoy creating busts, given the unlimited possibilities of anatomical differences, attitude, etc.”
Before McKellar became an artist, he was enrolled at the University of Washington Dental School. While there, the education provided him with extensive studies of facial and human anatomy that has helped greatly in sculpting the human body. He seriously began sculpting in 1987 and retired from dentistry in 1994 to become a full-time sculptor.
McKellar finds beauty in the human body and he attempts to capture it in the most genuine form he can. The characteristic of his work is his realistic style, embodied with power and movement that is expressed through every piece he creates. Although he is a primarily self-taught sculptor, he says that learning from his personal experiences are lessons that have led him to become the artist he is today. “There is the saying that some of the best education comes through mistakes, and I can definitely agree with that!”