School of Art and Design Alumni Exhibition 2021

Wellington B. Gray Gallery

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Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge

Janice Hardison Faulkner Gallery


Tom Grubb
Graduated 1983

Artist Statement
Working as a sea captain on commercial fishing boats in the North Atlantic Ocean inspired me to create star charts which explore the dimensions of time and space. As I would navigate in the open ocean I would study topographical maps of the ocean floor. Visualizing the depth of the ocean and converting this data in my mind to a three dimensional model gave me the inspiration to carry the concept skyward and create my celestial star charts which are abstract maps of the heavens. The earliest star charts used in the South Pacific Ocean were fabricated from bamboo, shell, and string. The stars were plotted to depict where the boats would have to travel in order to go from island to island. The charts enabled the sailor to travel in the open ocean outside the sight of land. This age of exploration was based on these early star charts.

I use bamboo, string, wax and ink on parchment paper to create the encaustic mixed media collage constructions. The use of wax by shipbuilders in ancient Greece was documented as long ago as the 5th century BC. They used beeswax and resin to seal the joints and waterproof the hull of their ships. Using pigment with the wax gave way to decorating the warships and was an early use of the encaustic method of creating art. Instead of focusing on the navigation of ships on the sea I seek through these works to focus man’s attention toward space and the exploration of the heavens. It is in the human nature to explore and to seek the unknown. With my work I seek to draw one’s attention off-earth toward the heavens. President Kennedy stated in an address concerning space exploration: “We set sail on the new sea because there is a new knowledge to be gained.”

In my sculptures and star charts I combine elements found in physics, astronomy, navigation and sacred
geometry to create my works of art. I believe that the arts and sciences are closely connected to the health of the human spirit. It is through this seeking of the unknown that one can grow and develop as a human being on planet earth. I create these works of art that are part ancient, part futuristic and part spiritual to inspire the viewer to consider the unlimited possibilities of exploring earth and the universe.










The Word, Encaustic Construction, Ink, Wax, Bamboo and String, 61″ x 41″ x 3.5″,


Artist with work