Michel Sicardi’s sculpture exhibit “Finding Paradise in the Woods” will be on display at the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation in the Alexander Black House main galleries, 204 Draper Road in Blacksburg, from Feb. 10 through March 11, 2023.
Admission is free, and exhibit hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
An artist reception and talk will be held on Friday, Feb. 10, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The reception and the talk are free and are open to the public.
Sicardi is a native of the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps where he grew up on his
grandmother’s farm and tended the cows on his uncle’s land. It was there that Sicardi began
working with wood, as most of the farm’s tools were made of it. Those well-used tools,
especially the ones used for making cheese, constantly needed repair, and Sicardi learned to carve and shape wood in repairing them.
When he was 15, he was sent to a chef school and left his valley home to work in various resorts in France, eventually becoming a river guide. This work suited him as he loved being in nature. During his time as a river guide, he met his wife, and they moved to Paris where he continued his education and eventually started his own business.
Then in 2018, his wife was offered a job with Volvo at their truck production plant in Dublin,VA, and the family relocated and settled in Blacksburg with their two youngest sons.
At first, beginning in the new place was rough for Sicardi and his family. He didn’t speak English, didn’t know anyone, and for the first time in his life, he didn’t have a job. He began walking in the woods near his home, initially foraging for mushrooms.
“My inspiration was often in the forest where I picked up wood and a lot of mushrooms too,” he said. “No one was in the woods; it was quiet, almost paradise, but I was surprised by the American lifestyle and the pollution I saw, especially plastic bags, cups,and straws.”
Sicardi said that at home in France he was not as conscious about the environment in France, and not until he was living in the United States did he become conscious of the environmental damage caused by plastics, and Americans’ propensity for using plastic bags.
During his walks in the woods, reflecting on his growing concerns about the earth and pollution, he began selecting wood for sculpting. All of the wood he collected was already felled or had fallen.
“I started creating in wood, as it had a relation with Mother Nature, who was defending herself against us,” Sicardi said. “I wish that more people were aware of the effect their actions have on nature and that we should do our best to lessen our impact.”
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