When master sculptor Nano Lopez steps outside, he doesn’t just see grass, trees or animals – he sees life, inspiration and miracles.
“Everything is a miracle, everything is amazing – life in general, all life is amazing,” he says. “The richness of the world is inspiration.”
Lopez grew up in Bogota, Colombia, and took trips with his family to rivers and islands. During these trips, he was fascinated by the flora, fauna and animals he discovered, and these experiences fueled his imagination in a way that has remained with him and evolved. Today, he states that his way of understanding humanity is through the path of nature.
In fact, one of the very reasons Lopez has enjoyed sculpting since the age of 15 is that he connects with nature by using clay to create art.
“Originally the first element that I worked with was water clay,” he says. “You get your hands on it, the feeling of the earth in your hands and the water, all of that is very direct.”
His figurative works are a search for humanness, for universal, hidden feelings he cannot quite name. He compares it to plunging your hand into the dirt, blindly searching for something, but you’ll know what you’re looking for once you take hold of it.
“Early on I was really in love with nature and working on the human figure and thinking about life at all levels,” he says. “That kind of thinking made me want to incorporate life and nature into the human.”
Among his various sculptures, Lopez says his “Maria” figurative works hold deep meaning to him. They combine his love of the human figure and his passion for nature. In fact, he has alluded to wanting to create a 10-foot large version of his “Maria Alma” sculpture.
“It symbolizes the human soul,” he says of Maria. “It relates to Mother Nature a lot…the beauty of life, the power of life – that is a miracle to me.”
To emphasize and contrast the natural, organic textures, Lopez incorporates mechanical and man-made textures such as gears, letters and numbers. To him, gears represent human creativity, while letters and numbers remind him of the history of civilization with math, language and literature.
“When we’re talking about animals, it brings the human part into the animals,” he says. “That gives it that richness that refers to what amazes me the most, which is the richness of the world.”
Even his palette is derived from nature. He said everything from trips during his youth to visits to the marketplace has inspired his bright colors.
“I do remember going to the markets in Colombia, they are so visual in that sense out there, particularly the outdoor markets that are so rich in colors and all that, and in the tropics the colors are pretty intense,” he says.
Even when he isn’t working on his art, Lopez loves interacting with nature. He says he enjoys landscaping, which is evident when admiring the beautiful grounds at his residence in Walla Walla, Washington.
“You go into your backyard and stand in a square foot of earth, you start to see how much is going on,” he says. “The birds go by, the bees go by, and you look down you see an ant going by, and you dig under and there is more stuff going on with worms and beetles. It’s amazing, that power of life amazes me and I want to express that into the figures.”