Eric Powell’s sculpture is driven by a visceral urgency to build. Compelled by intuition, Powell engages in a moment-to-moment exploration of his materials. It’s a vulnerable and highly charged experience. His preferred medium is steel, one of the most common and ubiquitous building materials in the modern world. “Steel is infinitely versatile and adaptable. It’s a durable, long lasting industrial material that can be sculpted into virtually any form that the imagination can conjure,” says the artist.


Images Above: Eric Powell, Schooner, 2016, Steel, 34 x 53 x 11 Inches; Eric Powell artist portrait; Eric Powell, Gosa I, 2017, Steel, 51 x 32 x 12 Inches


Eric Powell, Vestige III, 2016, Steel, 88 x 52 x 15 Inches



Eric Powell, Barque, 2017, 19 x 35 x 8 Inches


An avid collector, Powell regularly searches for steel along the waterfront landfills, in junk yards and anywhere he can discover a large cache of historical metal objects, which he often integrates into his pieces. These metal remains serve as reminders of our country’s rich industrial past. Powell also makes an annual sojourn deep into the California and Nevada deserts where he camps and walks miles every day hunting for scavenged treasures to make art. This ritual is a spiritual journey, a reflection of self and a rejuvenation of his practice. Freed of studio constraints, he makes improvisational sculptures out of these weather-worn metal and wood fragments. Then he leaves them behind in the desert sun.



Video: Eric Powell – Metal Sculpture, Directed by Kesten Migdal, 2:17 Minutes



Eric Powell, Tarim, 2017, 34 x 27 x 4 Inches


“Drawing also informs my work,” says Powell. “It is very much like other practices such as yoga and meditation. It is an exercise in balancing play with discipline, the intuitive with the linear, the unknown with the known.” He sketches almost daily, and his sculptures reflect the spontaneity and fluidity of his hand. Along with his three-dimensional works, he also creates finished drawings and paintings.



Eric Powell, Quadpodular I, 2017, 22 x 16 x 14 Inches


Eric Powell, Sacellum, 2010, Steel, 77 x 20 x 18 Inches


Powell is most well known for his commissioned works of art that strongly relate to site and architecture. His pieces grace numerous public institutions and private estates around the country, including freestanding sculpture or integrated architectural works such as gates, fences, and sculptural screens. He especially enjoys the collaborative aspect of working with design and architectural professionals, developers, arts commissions, and other stakeholders. Public art projects provide him an opportunity to create lasting works that are accessible to all. Adds Powell, “I create artworks that are relevant and responsive to the places where they reside–whether on a narrative, historical, or poetic level.”



Eric Powell, Germination, 2016, Steel, 14 x 16 x 7 Inches


Eric Powell, Chantry, 2010, Steel, 32 x 10 x 8 Inches


Born in San Jose, California, Powell studied sculpture and painting at California College of the Arts and University of Southern California. In 1982, he co-founded Spirit Arts Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he created an extensive body of steel art and furniture. In 1989, he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to continue his sculptural practice and begin working in the public art realm. Over the years, he has produced large-scale commissions for cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Napa, San Jose, Berkeley, Tucson, Madison, Cambridge and Reno. He recently completed work for a major public art project in San Francisco’s Hunters Point Shipyard. His art can be seen in libraries, plazas, parks, and other public places such as the Daly City BART station and Golden Gate Park.



Eric Powell, Portal, 2014, Installation View with Artist
Mixed Media on Composite Board, 86 x 86 Inches



Eric Powell, Flotilla, 2016,
Public Installation, Hillpoint Park, San Francisco
Painted Steel, 90 Inches Long