John W Mason

stone sculptor

Artist's Statement

I began stone carving in 2004 after a career teaching modern European History in England and Eastern Europe. The subject of most of my early work has been the human form. The main influence on my approach to carving stone at this time was the sculpture of Jose de Creeft, the Spanish-American pioneer of direct stone carving in the 20th century. De Creeft’s dreamlike, ethereal human forms emerging from the stone had a deep impact on the way I think about stone carving.

"When you see a fish you do not think of its scales, do you?...I just want the flash of the spirit."

-- Brancusi

What I love most about carving stone is the very thing that makes it difficult – it is a slow process. The shape I want to create from a block of raw material does not appear quickly and my mind is forced to slow down and let my hands do the thinking and discover the strengths and limitations of the stone. Partly as a consequence of this I look more to shape, form and outline in sculpture than realistic detail. Brancusi summed up this particular artistic vision of the real world in the following words: ‘When you see a fish you do not think of its scales, do you?...I just want the flash of the spirit’.

I carve mainly in four stones: soapstone from Virginia; marble from Vermont and Italy; granite from Connecticut; and onyx from British Columbia. Recently I have been creating large outdoor sculptures mounted on oak, walnut and pine pedestals which form an integral part of the work. But whether I carve a Buddha figure, an Egyptian goddess, a pre-Colombian geometric pattern or a Japanese fan, my aim is always to capture ‘the flash of the spirit’.


1939                    born in Hackensack, New Jersey

1960                    BA English, Franklin and Marshall College, PA

1962                    move to England

1968                    BA Hons. History, University of London, UK

1975                    Ph D History, University of Birmingham, UK

2001                    return to United States; reside in Lexington, VA since 2004

2004–2007        sculpture classes with Ken Smith, Staunton, VA

2005–present   member of the Virginia Stone Carvers Guild, Charlottesville, VA

2006                   sculpture studio study in Pietrasanta, Italy

2006–2010        sculpture classes and residencies at the Carving

                            Studio and Sculpture Center, West Rutland,VT

2012–present    member of the New England Sculptors Association

Exhibitions and Awards

2016        The Artisans Loft, 1st Anniversary Holiday Show, Staunton, Va.

2016        Bower Center Invitational Exhibition of Sculpture by Virginia Artists, Bedford, Va.

2014        Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition (Jurors Choice – best in show),

                Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center, Portsmouth VA.

2014        Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, The Fells Estate, Newbury,NH.

2014        Exhibiting Artist, R.R.Smith Center Garden, Staunton, VA.

2013-14   Exhibiting Artist, The Greene Art Gallery, Guilford, CT.

2012         VMRC Juried Art Exhibition, Harrisonburg,VA

2011         12th Annual Juried Show, Nelson Fine Art Gallery, Lexington, VA

2011         The Fells Estate, Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, Newbury, NH

2011         VSCG Exhibition, McGuffy Art Center, Charlottesville, VA

2010        Juried Figure Show (Best in Show, First Prize) Beverley Street Gallery, Staunton,VA

2010        Art on the Green (Best in Show,Second Prize) Rockbridge Art Guild, Lexington,VA

2009       VSCG Exhibition, Staunton Augusta Arts Center, Staunton, VA

2008       Dance with Mason, Stone by Stone, Avenue Arts Gallery, Lynchburg, VA

2008       Janet Dance and John Mason: Exploration of Stone, Nelson Fine Art Gallery, Lexington, VA

2007       VSCG Exhibition, Staunton Augusta Arts Center, Staunton, VA

2007       8th Annual Juried Show (Member’s Choice Prize) Nelson Fine Art Gallery, Lexington, VA

2005       VSCG Exhibition, Newcomb Hall Gallery, Charlottesville, VA

Publications & Talks

2014     (April) Artist-in-Residence, Blue Ridge Community College, Wyres Cave, VA.


2014     Talk on ‘Sculpture’ Rockbridge Arts Guild, Lexington, VA.


2009     Lecture: ‘Box Lunch Forum with sculptor, John Mason’ at the Taubman Museum,

              Roanoke, VA


2007     ‘Sculptor’ entry in B.Amore, editor, Carving Out a Dream (Kokoro Press, 2007)