Zachary Oxman | A Festival of Light
Zachary Oxman

born 1968
Resides in Hillsboro, Virginia

Biography      Statement     Ask the Artist      In the Studio
Zack Oxman received his BFA in sculpture from Carnegie Mellon University. He also has studied at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC and the Studio Arts Center in Florence.


Zack Oxman talks about his early worries that growing up in a family of artists wouldn't allow him to develop his own voice.

VIDEO (1.5 MB) || AUDIO (RA:18)

Animating this music box was an important development in Zack's work.

VIDEO (1.9 MB) || AUDIO (RA:21)

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

When asked how it is that I come up with the ideas I create I'll simplify my answer by narrowing it down to the two experiences most influential to my life.First having been raised by a Architect father and a mother who is artist, as a child growing up I was exposed to many forms of contemporary art. Not only did I get to view this art but, by having a family with professional artist, I learned how it was designed, created, bought, and sold. All these processes would prove to be valuable towards myself being an artist.

According to his mother, Laney Oxman, Zack showed talent from a very early age:


But Zack says that despite his parents' influence, he didn't worry about establishing his own identity: "In 1988 I studied in Italy. It was this experience that has left the second greatest impression on who I am today as a sculptor. While traveling throughout Italy I became fascinated with the sculpture of the Baroque period. I was so moved by the abilities of the artist to take materials as static and hard as marble or bronze, and through gesture, balance, and emotion, create a truly animated sculpture full of life."

"It is essentially the culmination and combination of these two events that I derive the visual vocabulary that I use to create my sculpture today."

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

I typically work alone, however at times if I get a large project I will hire people to help with much of the process work.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

I have taught before and I very much enjoy sharing what I have learned with others. As far as apprentices, as of yet I have not but it is something that I may consider in the future.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

When creating my bronze sculpture I use a process called lost was casting. The method gets its name from the fact that you loose your wax model in the casting process. Since at the time I am doing my own casting I typically create my originals directly in wax and make very few back up molds. What this means is when I cast a piece its a one shot deal. So when it comes time to cast its always very exciting to see what I've got when I break open the investment (the form in which you pour your metal into).

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

Bronze casting is a very labor and process oriented technique. At the present time I am using a foundry that I built in 1992 and doing all the preparation, casting, and finishing processes myself. It is all the process work that takes away from my creative time that I find most difficult about what to do.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

The casting method I use is called lost wax casting. This technique has been around for centuries however the materials I use are very contemporary. One of the greatest advances in the field is the development of investment materials (this is what the form in which you pour your metal into is made of). What I use is a product called ceramic shell, which, what I've been told, is similar to the material the reentry tiles of the space shuttle are made of. This material posesses many qualities that have simplified mych of the investing process from actual weight of the investment to the quality of casting and finishing work.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

Two important pieces of advice for someone just starting out. First find something you love. Secondly and just as important, learn as much as you can about the different methods, techniques, and tools you can apply to your work. You will find that the broader your knowledge is of the materials you are using the more ideas you will develop.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

Well I haven't been doing this long enough to have found our any secrets of the trade yet, however if you have any secrets you could let me in on I'd appreciate it greatly. In all seriousness if there's one thing to keep in mind it is that no time or experience is wasted. It is crucial in ones growth as an artist and person to have the ability to take any so called set back and find the positive, as obscure as it may seem, learn from it and apply that knowledge to your next step in life.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

As incredible as I think it is that the Internet is bringing my sculpture to millions of people, being a sculptor, no two dimensional image will ever replace the ability to touch and feel the depth of a sculpture.

Laney Oxman Albert Paley