Copper in the Arts

June 2020

Roger Casey: Copper From the Heart

By Lisa Scheid

Roger Casey’s long love affair with copper started while he was working in construction. Casey had been hired for demolition of a house and he came across copper pipes. Just get rid of it, the property owner said. But the Maine native couldn’t bring himself to throw away something of value. 

So, he kept the copper.

“It laid in my backyard for a week,” recalled Casey, a native of Maine where he still works. “So, I turned it into something.” 

roger_casey.jpgCopper mirror by Roger Casey, 12 inches round. 
Photograph courtesy of Roger Casey.

That impulse to create coupled with desire to learn has led Casey to an art career that has sent his decorative pieces across the United States and around the world in Israel and South America. 

Entirely self-taught, his technique requires ingenuity as much as inspiration. He developed his own tools to pound the copper just the way he sees it in his mind. He welds and heats the metal, too.

“I see something in my mind and I make it,” he says. “I’m very good with my hands.” 

His pieces receive more attention than he does and that’s ok with Casey. 

 “I’m just a regular Joe,” he says. “ I just build from my heart.”

A scuba diver and avid outdoorsman, Casey, 52, finds inspiration in his life. Lately, that has come from his grandson, Grayson, who was born prematurely about a year and a half ago.

Casey had to take a break from his art to be at the bedside of the boy who has an undeveloped heart, spina bifida and other challenges. 

“Honestly, he’s had a rough go,” Casey says. “He’s the most precious thing I ever had happen to me. Every hour I spend with him is an hour I’m not working in my shop.”

He now spends part of his week caring for Grayson. It’s a sad day, Casey said, when Grayson heads to his maternal family for part of the week. As the boy has grown, so has Casey’s art.

“He’s changed how I build things,” Casey says. “Honestly he has inspired me to do something bigger or something more. Since he has been in my life, the pieces I’ve made have been bigger. They have more depth. They are more vibrant. I think he’s added so much to my life that it’s come out in my pieces. I know it’s odd, but he’s forever on my mind.”

Casey said his career would not have taken off if not for the encouragement of Marilee Moore, a member of the Rockland Maine arts community who supported his work as well as purchased pieces.

Casey said he strives to make each piece unique. Sometimes that can be overwhelming. He may make many dragonflies but no two are the same.

“I’m so connected to every single piece,” Casey says. “It’s never the same thing. If you get one of my pieces you have the only one in the world.”

A recent untitled piece features a bird on a tree under a moon.

I made this little guy and placed him on a branch with a moon so that I could capture light and dark with life and color as you might find if you take a walk in nature,” Casey says. “ I love creating things like this and they feel so alive to me. I am sure in my heart that this is what I am called to do.”

 

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