TOM CLARK was born October 19, 1928 in the small town of Elizabethtown, North Carolina. He received a B.A. from Davidson College, a B.D. from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, and his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. In 1989 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Davidson College (an honor bestowed on his father 40 years earlier!). Dr. Clark was an Associate Professor of Religion at Davidson College for over 25 years, teaching courses in theology and religious art.
Dr. Clark has attended art schools around the globe,most notably: Richmond Polytechnical Institute; Roberts School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland; San Michel de Allende in Mexico; Boston Museum of Fine Arts School of Art; and the London City and Guilds School of Art.
In 1978 Dr. Clark sculpted a small gnome for his own amusement, inspired by the cover art on the popular book "Gnomes, illustrated by the late Rien Poortvliet. Using his keen imagination, he began sculpting other small forest-dwellers, and celebrated their life of harmony with the natural world by naming them "Woodspirits".
Dr. Thomas F. Clark is the lead artist for Cairn Studio, LTD. Dr. Clark, the most well-known sculptor in America today, is the most prolific and talented sculptor in the figurine industry, with collectors in every county of every state, plus Europe, Asia (especially Japan!) and Canada. Dr. Clark will soon be featured along with Elizabeth Dole, the Reverend Billy Graham, Andy Griffith and others in a very special book saluting the 50 most influential North Carolinians.
Recently, Dr.Clark was commissioned to create a bronze bust of Bill Russell which was presented to him at a special tribute hosted by Bill Cosby, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis and many others. Twenty years ago Giftware News, one of the most prestigious publications in the gift industry, pronounced Tom Clark "already bigger than Norman Rockwell - an "american treasure".
Tom Clark is best known for his whimsical Gnomes and Woodspirits, but equally impressive are his scaled miniatures of historical people, such as Thomas Jefferson and Davy Crockett.
Over the past 40 years Dr. Clark has specialized in the creation of large portrait busts, and to date he has completed over a hundred of these types of artworks including the magnificent bronze sculptures: King David, Lincoln in Thought, Beethoven and Bill Russell.
Tom Clark collectibles
Dr. Thomas Fetzer Clark a native of Elizabethtown, North Carolina, graduated from Davidson College in 1949 with a degree in English. He continued his education receiving a Bachelor's in Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Theology from University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
He also trained in sculpture at Roberts School of Art in Aberdeen, the Museum School of Art in Boston Massachusetts, and at City and Guilds of London School of Art. Before becoming a professor at Davidson College, he served briefly as a missionary in the Appalachian Mountains.
Tom Clark & gnomes
Religion played an important role in what he taught and the gnomes which he eventually sculpted to cast a magic spell over the country's collectibles market. Dr. Clark's father went to Davidson, as did other family members. As a matter of fact he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award at Davidson College in 1989, exactly forty years after his father had received his.
"When Professor Tom Clark '49 began sculpturing more than 40 years ago, he dug clay from the creek in the middle of Patterson Fraternity Court on the north side of Davidson's campus. In 1958 Clark had just come to Davidson as an assistant professor of religion. Clark, who eventually became an associate professor, doesn't have time to dig his own clay anymore because his sculpture has led him from what was 'Nothing but a hobby' to what is now 'a big business,' he said." -Connie McLean '80
Dr. Clark left Davidson College in 1985 to devote his time to the Gnome business with Cairn Studio.
"I am a creative person, and sometimes creative people like me don't fit in well in structured organizations like college. For me, it is very satisfying to have people come into my Davidson shop or into a dealer's and pick out a statue because they like it. They're not just coming to see me because they've run out of the permitted class absences for the quarter," Dr. Clark points out with a wry smile.
What really inspired him to sculpture gnomes were drawings in the 1976 bestselling book Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet. He happened to come across the Dutch book during the summer of 1978 where he was a storyteller for a boy's camp.