Renowned South Carolina carver and artist Grainger McKoy (born 1947) grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, and attended Clemson University, earning a degree in zoology, while also studying architecture. After graduating, McKoy apprenticed for eighteen months with the renowned bird carver Gilbert Maggioni in Beaufort. McKoy initially produced realistic carvings, but slowly began transforming his intricately carved birds into gravity-defying sculptures that played with form and space, while continuing to accurately render each species in detail.
The current Greenville County Museum of Art exhibition features a twelve-foot-high basswood model of Recovery Stroke that was carved in 2008 as a maquette for the stainless steel centerpiece of Swan Iris Lake Gardens in the artist’s hometown of Sumter.
For a bird in flight, the recovery stroke is the weakest wing position as it produces neither lift nor forward momentum, but it must occur in order for the power stroke to propel the bird forward. For Grainger McKoy the recovery stroke has always been the most graceful. In 1999 McKoy first sculpted Recovery Stroke, using the wing of a pintail duck. In 2004 the Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston commissioned the artist to create a work that would resonate with their mission of treatment and recovery, and he selected this vulnerable moment of a bird in flight. Over the course of a decade, McKoy has rendered this motif in a variety of sizes and materials, including basswood, bronze, stainless steel, and silver.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.