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Tony Angell’s passion for nature began in childhood, through exploring and studying wildlife and his artistic talent is innate. He developed and strengthened his skills through drawing and sculpting from life, often through study of the wild creatures he has rehabilitated. Angell’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures capture the characteristics and gestures of his subjects, beautifully communicating moments he has witnessed in the wild. Telling the stories of the animals who inspire his work, Angell’s work continues to expand our appreciation of the uniqueness and personalities each living thing exudes.
The sculpture was inspired by one of the artist's trips to Alaska, where an enormous Black Skate weighing perhaps 300 lbs. washed up on Wilderness Beach. When Angell returned four hours later from field work, the skate had been devoured, all but the spiny tail left behind by grizzly bears and wolves, as evinced by the surrounding tracks. Shortly thereafter, the artist was walking Fisherman's Bay near his studio and happened upon a large skate swimming just below him in the water, feeding on bivalves or crabs. He described it as incredible "to really see a beautiful marine animal up close as it floats and flies through the water."
"Black Skate" is created from a single piece of black Belgian marble. The variations in the color of the base of the sculpture is because marble contains compacted seashells. Close inspection reveals the details of some ancient shells.