Steven Sperry‘s ambition to create art has been dominated by the impact the Pacific Island cultures have had on him. His first experience came whille serving an LDS mission to the Hawaiian Islands. This emotional and spiritual experience forged the foundation that lead him to seek his educational discipline at BYU-Hawaii. Studying under Rick Wells, Jan Fisher, A.L. Garside, Viliami Toluta‘u, and Mat Alisa has been a life altering experience. While attending BYU-Hawaii Steven received his B. A. degree in art. His major emphasis was 3D design with a minor emphasis in painting. He also received an associates degree from BYU Hawaii in graphic design.
Steven has worked with many artistic disciplines, but his true love has always been sculpture. Having ones' ideas and emotions develop in 3 dimensional space under the control of ones' own hands has given Steven great tranquility and gratification. When working out an idea Steven likes to use what he calls a “recipe” compressed of symbolism, form, and subject martial. He also likes to emphasize contrast with lose and tight textures.
Steven is married to Va‘epopua Fale and they have 6 children.
The Portuguese Gift to Hawaii is cast in bronze, as are all but one of the sculptures featured on this Web site. The artist performed all of the creative steps in this bronze artwork personally including the sculpting, molding, foundry casting, wax, slurry, and metal chasing. This is done to ensure that each edition of this unique fine art piece is of the utmost aesthetic quality.
This sculpture depicts an era when Portuguese immigrants settled in the Hawaiian Islands. They originated the ukulele. The ukulele has long formed one of the many unique sounds encountered in island culture. It is said to have evolved from the cacaquiho or the braguinha. Many aspects of the clothing depicted in this sculpture have also left their mark on modern island culture.
The artist chose this type of clothing for two reasons. Primarily, it is clothing worn by many of the people from the island of Madeira which is one the migration sources of Portuguese immigrants, but he also loves the way the negative area around the peace is shaped by the clothing. He feels that it gives more emotion but also adds to the male figure. In the process of creation the male figure was created “un-draped” and in detail to get the structure and gesture down. The clothing was then put on and given a heavy texture for more feeling as well as to contrast the detail, given the realistic look of the figure.
The sculpture exhibits two different types of patina. The first features dominant browns with ample transparency exposing underlying bronze tones. It also includes light and dark shades of green that have been artfully laid into the textures to draw one's attention. The other patina, with stronger greens and more apparent, darker crevasses in the texture, represents how the bronze would gracefully and beautifully evolve were the island atmosphere allowed years to interact with it.
I conceived the Tonga Mounga Ki He Loto in my mind while attending BYU-Hawaii. I wanted to create something small that would yet evoke a sense of the monumental. This piece was prepared for sale in the gallery provided to BYU-H students by the Polynesian Cultural Center. Unfortunately, graduation occurred before this piece was finished.
The inspiration for this piece came from the Tongan saying "Tonga mounga ki he loto." which alludes to the fact that there are no mountains in Tonga to strengthen or prove one's abilities, hence the Tongan people must look inward to test and prove themselves. I believe that strength comes through sacrifice and by the power of opposition so I incorporated a Tongan legend about the origins of kava and the sugar cane plant into this sculpture. I wanted to emphasized the power of opposites as represented in the legend; the Tongan expression, if you will, of yin and yang.
The legend is: "One day the king of Tonga went fishing with his men. They did not catch anything and were hungry. They stopped at the remote island called 'Eueiki where a couple named Fevanga & Fefafa lived. They had an only daughter named Kava who had leprosy. Which is why the couple lived so far from the main islands.
From exhaustion, the King found shade under the Kape plant. There was a famine in the land and the Kape plant was the only food for the king and his men to eat. Not willing to aporch the king out of respect, the parants sacraficed and baked their daughter for food in an underground oven called an 'umu. After discovering this sacrifice, the king was deeply moved. He instructed the parents to bury their daughter's remains properly. They did so and two plants grew on the grave: a kava plant grew from the head and sugar cane grew from the feet."
How to reach Steven K Sperry
email adress: email@example.com
phone number: (801) 372-6435