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Derrick A. Te Paske

Sex Pot XIII: ABYSS, 2020, Black cherry, woodburned, Courtesy of the Artist.

Visit Derrick Te Paske’s website
Instagram: @tepaske.derrick

Hear from the Artist



Hello, my name is Derrick Te Paske, and I live in Belmont, Massachusetts. My piece in this exhibition is called Sex Pot XIII: ABYSS, and it has a considerable legacy.

Many years ago, I used to make wood vessels which often had woodburned dots on them and which became known as my “pots with dots.” But I could re-shape the brass tips of the burners, so sometimes the dots morphed into little marks that looked more like tadpoles.

And at some point, I thought maybe they could look like…sperm. 

At first, I thought that might be a little too adolescent, until I remembered that one of my favorite works of art by Edvard Munch is a Madonna which has a border of sperm swimming around it. I figured if it was good enough for Munck it was good enough for me. 

So I made a little hollow cherry vessel, about 10” in diameter, inset a burl faux egg in the top and woodburned sperm all over the surface, and sort of whimsically decided to call it a “SEXPOT”. Surprisingly, in fairly short order, at the annual Museum School sale, I sold it to the fellow who was then the Director of the MFA in Boston.

Well, now I was *really* inspired, thinking that if it’s good enough for Edvard Munch and Malcolm Rogers that’s doubly good enough for me. So over the following years I indeed made an additional 11 other sexpots of that sort (all sold) and here is number 13. 

All of the others were closed hollow forms, about 10 inches in diameter, with varying patterns of sperm, and with titles like “From Indirection Find Direction Out,” “Not to Scale,” “Sperm Bank,” and “Sex Pot GMO” (which had sperm proceeding in neat and orderly rows up the sides of the piece).

This piece was started in the early fall of 2019, and was considerably different in form from all the others, at 24” about as tall as my machinery and muscles allow, and open mouthed. I anticipated a stained black interior, so gave it a sort of playful name including “ABYSS”. That amused me. But when it was eventually finished in the spring of 2020, the Covid pandemic had changed the world and, inevitably, the context and thus the apparent meaning of this piece. There’s nothing playful about the word ABYSS in unprecedented times like the past couple of years.

So once again, my work negotiates its way between being something and meaning something, with that meaning always being subject to change.

And in summary, Sex Pot XIII also fits well within in my thumbnail artist’s statement about my work, which is that “I have always been interested in classical forms, the ancient, the so-called primitive, and the strange.”