DeCordova awarded John Bisbee the Rappaport Prize for his explorations using an unusual artistic medium: metal nails. For over a decade he has worked with nails and spikes, transforming their industrial toughness and sharp points into an amazing array of abstract forms that can be loosely organic or tightly geometric, or both at the same time. His sculptures express his energy and restlessness, as well as his bravura in choosing to work with an unforgiving and potentially dangerous material. Bisbee welds standard 12-inch spikes into units and assembles them in shapes that are suggestive without being specific, and that embody a number of opposing characteristics. His 2002 piece Slack, made of exactly one ton of spikes, resembles interlocking wreaths of loosely-woven strands of steel. Its organic, even soft, appearance is reminiscent of a bird's nest, contrasting sharply with the industrial material from which it is made.
"Suffice it to say, the Rappaport Prize is the greatest honor I have received and I know it will continue to be a positive echo for many years to come," writes Bisbee. "This award matters, not just to me, the extremely fortunate recipient, but as a beacon to all aspiring artists that what they do does matter."
A 20-year retrospective exhibition of Bisbee's work, Bright Common Spikes, was held at the Portland Museum of Art in 2008. The show received rave reviews from the Boston Globe and other Maine news sources. Bisbee also directs the Brunswick, Maine branch of the Coleman Burke Gallery, founded in 2007.