November 5, 2022 – January 3, 2023

Roll Up Project is pleased to present sculptures by Sam Perry. Perry creates dynamic abstract forms in wood that seem to bend, twist, and flow.

Perry has served as the Director of Installation and Conservation at Runnymede Sculpture Farm in Woodside since 1989. As damaged and fallen trees are removed, he sets aside branches and trunks to use in his studio. Working with wood requires patience – it can take up to three years for the material to naturally cure before the slow and meditative process of sculpting, sanding, and finishing may begin. Perry’s early exposure to woodworking in his family’s canoe shop informs his deep understanding of the material, and his openness to its unpredictable nature. He also cites the ocean as an ongoing source of inspiration. He notes, “It curves, and surrounds, and undulates, which is very fascinating to me.”

The Knot (2014), on view in the Harrison Street window, is an oversized ribbonlike form that crosses and folds at the top, then diverges in two directions as it reaches the ground. Along the folded top, the cut of the wood grain reveals a dappled pattern set against honey tones. Dark vertical grains create stripes that exaggerate the length of the “legs,” creating a rhythmic counterpoint. Perry points out that environmental factors can alter a tree’s grain during its life, creating wider rings, dark striations, waves, and other patterns. Cracks may also form during the drying process, creating dramatic crevices and scars that act as improvisational marks.

Twisted Belt (2007) and Spiral Apart (2007) are sited in the Third Street windows. Both feature satin-like finishes reminiscent of surfaces touched over hundreds of years. Twisted Belt’s torqued loop shifts and changes as the viewer moves around the object, creating different viewpoints into the hollow center. Spiral Apart is an elegant twisting strand that folds at the base to create an open oval shape. The inky black-brown form could be interpreted as a myriad of forms, such as sea grass, a calligraphic line, or even an electrical cable, but Perry leaves this open to the viewer. Instead, he focuses on the formal qualities of balance, composition, and surface.

Seen together, these three sculptures offer a window into Perry’s practice. They create a tension and a back-and-forth conversation between medium and form, deftly communicating movement, flow, and malleability in a medium best known for its sturdiness and solidity. Their different scales also allow for unique interactions. Twisted Belt is the smallest in scale, encouraging an intimate viewing, while Spiral Apart and The Knot rise above the viewer and reach out into space, commanding attention and changing the relationship between the viewer and the object.


About the Artist

Sam Perry is a sculptor based in Oakland, California. After earning an MFA at California College of Arts and Crafts in 1990, Perry focused on clay sculpture and worked as a lead studio assistant to Viola Frey. Since 2000, he has primarily worked in wood. His work has been included in exhibitions at Sanchez Art Center (Pacifica, CA); Rena Bransten Gallery (San Francisco, CA); the Bedford Gallery (Walnut Creek, CA); and the Napa Valley Museum (Yountville, CA), among others. His work is represented by Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco.

Learn more about Sam Perry at his website.


The Knot, 2014
wood and steel
67 x 78 x 18 inches
photo courtesy of artist


Twisted Belt, 2007
30.5 x 16 x 12 inches
photo courtesy of artist
Spiral Apart, 2007
wood and steel
57 x 42 x 15 inches
photo courtesy of artist