Thomas Sayre – Sculptor and Painter
Thomas Sayre is an internationally acclaimed sculptor and painter renowned for his earthcast sculptures that anchor public spaces worldwide. His design firm, Clearscapes, operates from an old warehouse in Raleigh.
Sayre was dyslexic as a child but managed to adapt, earning a Morehead Scholarship at North Carolina and going on to Cranbrook for further studies.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Sayre grew up in Washington, D. C. near the National Cathedral where his life was profoundly shaped by its stonecutters. He attended St Albans School before gaining admission and graduating summa cum laude from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on a Morehead Scholarship; additionally, he studied at both Michigan and Cranbrook Academies of Art.
Sayre employs physical force to shape his sculptures’ undulating masses. He applies bright white stain-blocker paint onto wood panels and then uses flat sticks to press its particles together with force. He also layers sepia-toned tar to give his works depth and give an impression of time.
Sayre is known for creating large public sculptures that transform public spaces. His most celebrated piece can be found at Raleigh’s Museum of Art – its gyre rings being one of them. Recently, Earthcaster was shown on WORLD television.
Sayre has designed and constructed public art projects all over the globe. He co-founded Clearscapes with architect Steve Schuster (deceased).
Sayre’s earthcast sculptures evoke Jackson Pollock’s signature style of abstract-realist painting while at the same time offering texture and depth, producing visceral intensity. His process and inspirations are explored in “Earthcaster.”
At Raleigh’s Warehouse District during First Friday events, visitors may walk past Sayre’s studio. Most don’t realize that Sayre is an internationally acclaimed artist whose monumental pieces adorn numerous public spaces; even Campbell Law School commissioned him for sculpture work! Click any of the icons below for a selection of Sayre’s public art projects (green) and exhibit sites (blue).
Achievement and Honors
Sayre has received many prestigious awards during his time at Sayre High, including The Grunwald Alumni Scholarship. This prestigious honor recognizes students with strong interests in world languages, communication proficiency and cultural appreciation – it’s named for Sayre alum Lillie F. Webb who passed away earlier.
As an internationally acclaimed sculptor with over 77 monumental sculptures in locations worldwide, he is celebrated for his ability to move audiences with his art. His signature technique is earth casting: digging complex molds in the ground before pouring concrete and lifting his pieces up by crane to stand in bold relief against the sky.
Sayre is one of the founding partners of Clearscapes architecture, design and sculpture firm and an advocate of thoughtful, place-driven public art projects. He has served on the North Carolina Arts Council board for over 10 years as well as being chairman of its annual Sculpture Celebration event.
Thomas Sayre is a family man dedicated to his family. With two daughters of his own and an active part in church community. Additionally, Thomas has participated in civic projects including serving as trustee at Blooming Grove Presbyterian Church as well as positions such as Assessor, Overseer of Highways, and Overseer of Poor.
His work has been shown in galleries worldwide and several large scale public pieces in the US such as a set of 18-foot rings installed along a greenway trail in Raleigh. Furthermore, an Emmy nominated documentary Earthcaster (2016) features him.
Tom Sayre has overcome much, from childhood dyslexia to becoming a professional sculptor. Recently he shared his journey with students at The Hill Center Elementary School in downtown Raleigh.
Sayre’s work was often funded through local, county and state Percent-for-Art programs; when not working within these constraints he sought private donors who would support his major pieces.
Sayre’s work can be found all around the world, from Turkey and Thailand to Denver, Oregon and Nashville. His latest creation will be an impressive earth-casted sculpture that celebrates Lenoir and Caldwell County’s rich past and promising future.
Sayre’s family includes his wife Wendy; children Gage, Gunnar, Gracie and Gianna; siblings Diana Young and Shelly Sawyer; brothers-in-law Ron Young and Robert Sayre; numerous nieces, nephews and friends; co-founded Clearscapes design firm as well as co-founding the Morehead Scholar program at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where he studied sculpture as a Morehead Scholar.