Marisa Marcantonio: The Sculpture of American Folk Artist Mark A. Perry

March 20, 2012

At first glance, the carved wooden sculptures by Mark A. Perry might catch you off guard with their lifelike details and larger-than-life scale. For the artist, his creative journey as a woodworker began after a successful run as a stone carver. A Nantucket apprenticeship in the 1980s with a well-known stone carver set him on his way to garnering accolades and gallery shows for his stone sculptures. The prestigious Copley Society of Art, Boston, the oldest artist’s association in the country, endorsed his unique talent by making him a member.

Then a client’s request for a wooden weathervane changed his course to new creative outlet–carving in wood.

Photos by Mark A. Perry

He took inspiration from American folk art, working in a style sought by legions of collectors attending top antique shows around the country. Creating both unique and reproduction designs based on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century folk art, he created work that would fit equally well in a Vermont barn converted into a home as it would a Nantucket weathered shingle home. His quirky and lovable large-scale pieces are wonderful with vibrant paint that highlights the carvings.


Perry, when asked about his work, said, “It is more about my own personal satisfaction about creating the piece. I also love to see how people react to the work. It’s just thrilling to carve something, put paint on it and see it come to life. I love what I do.â€

His hand-carved and -painted wooden sculptures begin with a large piece of basswood, a soft hardwood, and he finishes them with highly pigmented oil paints from the oldest paint company in the country, Ronan.

The fanciful and elaborate details Perry carves into his pieces elevate them, so they’ll become the antiques of tomorrow. It is hard to believe there is someone making folk art of this high caliber any more. “My newer things are inspired by folk art with a modern sensibility, taking something out of the past and making it relevant today,†he says. His fanciful pieces emerge from his studio in Providence, Rhode Island. He accepts custom commissions. Perry’s work provides a welcome contemporary addition to the world of folk art.

–Marisa Marcantonio

Marisa Marcantonio has been involved in nearly every aspect of the interior design industry. She has worked in the style department of House & Garden and has been the style editor for House Beautiful as well as for Oprah’s O at Home magazine. Currently she is an independent consultant to private clients on interiors and design, and she consults with top companies, most recently contributing to the re-launch of Gilt Groupe’s online home section. Marcantonio is a go-to source who seeks out the next thing in interior design. In 2007, she launched her blog, Stylebeat, to share design trends in a more immediate and personal way.

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