Michael James Peterson was born in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1952. He moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1975 and harvested wood in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. He compares the experience of gathering unusual burls and branches to “walking around in a sculpture garden.” He began to experiment with woodworking and made carved objects and symmetrical vessels that emphasized the beauty of the wood. Peterson is inspired by nature, and his roughly turned objects are embellished with carvings and texture to evoke weathered bones, fossils, and stones.
Every few months during the logging season in Southern Oregon Peterson and his wife will travel from their home in Lopez Island, Washington to find the perfect pieces of wood. Peterson describes, ‘I’m committing to this material. I don’t want somebody to just send me wood – I really have to make that connection.’ From the pieces of wood the artist has personally selected, he uses a range of tools, such as chainsaws, gouges and special surface treatments to draw forth striking organic sculptures from the grain and structure of the Madrone Burl wood he works with.