Studio Tour with Raleigh's Thomas Sayre
photograph by Charles Harris

“Give me a field and it’s pure inspiration,” sculptor Thomas Sayre says. He likes stainless steel, sure, but at the moment, Sayre is into earthcasting, in which he “digs holes in Mother Earth, pours or sprays concrete into their shapes, and then stands them up against Father Sky.” Sayre wants to marry human intention and the grain of nature, which means that a 16-foot-tall, 30,000-pound piece is “small and intricate” for this artist who uses complex detailing and structural engineering to build his creations. Oh, and a very large crane.

Feature image: The massive sculptures that Sayre casts in dirt worldwide, including Flue in Kinston (above, right), begin as designs in an old plumbing supply warehouse in downtown Raleigh.

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Susan Stafford Kelly was raised in Rutherfordton. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College. She is the author of Carolina Classics, a collection of essays that have appeared in Our State, and five novels: How Close We Come, Even Now, The Last of Something, Now You Know, and By Accident. Susan has three grown children and lives in Greensboro with her husband, Sterling.