Columbia Artist Peter Lenzo Preserves Memories through Sculpture

Jun 21, 2017

South Carolina artist Peter Lenzo creates masterful sculpture that has gained the attention of collectors from across the country. His work draws inspiration from the traditionally African American art of face jugs and is currently on display at Columbia's If Art Gallery. South Carolina Public Radio's Haley Kellner talks with Peter Lenzo and gallery owner Wim Roefs about the Southern heritage and personal history behind Lenzo's work.

Through June 24, If Art Gallery is featuring an exhibit of Lenzo's work called In Memory of My Memory.

Sculpture by Peter Lenzo, on display at If Art Gallery in Columbia. These pieces are a preservation of Lenzo's thoughts and feelings as his frequent seizures continue to cause memory loss.
Credit Makayla Gay / South Carolina Public Radio

Peter Lenzo Biography

Peter Lenzo grew up in Detroit and made Columbia his home when he accepted a teaching position at the University of South Carolina, where he taught art for many years. Due to an accident 20 years ago, Peter suffers from epileptic seizures, which have greatly affected his life. While he has worked in multimedia art in the past, the nearly weekly seizures made it necessary for him to return to sculpture. 

In addition to impacting his physical life, the seizures have caused epileptic dementia and memory loss. Lenzo says his ability to create art keeps him moving forward despite the difficulties. His work, based on traditional face jugs, serves as a way of expressing his pain while preserving his memories. Each sculpture captures the feelings, ideas, moments, and meaning associated with the time he took to make it. For Lenzo, this memory preservation is important now more than ever.