George Nock, former running back with the New York Jets and Washington Redskins was destined early in life to become an artist. His has been a fascinating career – from maneuvering his powerful torso, to swift moves on the Gridiron, to positioning his big, strong hands to delicately mold objects of intricacy and perfection. Self-taught, Nock has distinguished himself among the greatest sculptors of the twentieth through twenty-first century, due to an intrinsic ability to capture with versatility highly original bronzes reflecting life’s experiences. The brawny, broad-shouldered ex-athlete found his real victory in shaping exquisite sculpture.
Inspired by junior high school teachers, one a sculptor, the other a painter, the multi-talented Nock etched, sketched, sculpted and painted throughout high school – amid stellar performance on the basketball court and football field. In 1964, on a sports scholarship, the mild-mannered jock attended Morgan State University, where he majored in Psychology. By 1969 he had been drafted by the New York Jets. “The team would be going over game strategy in the training facility in Shea Stadium, and would find Nock working on preliminary drawings for sculptures.
After 5 years in the NFL, Nock retired. A natural instinct to eye a field and to scheme an entire play transformed fluidly -- to the ability to look at a clump of clay and envision a masterpiece. Whereas, immediate productivity was demanded on the playing field, the average sculpture required 2-7 months of labor to complete.
Yet, the euphoria of the vision ―the creativity poured into the 3- dimensional structure — exceeds the thrill or rush one feels in running a touch down, Nock maintains. In fact, his first bronze cast 'ScatBack' depicted his very playing position -- a running back. “I knew all mechanics of the moves – so I was inspired to recreate them in 3-D.” Nock's admiration of the human form and firsthand knowledge of the feats it can achieve is spectacularly recognized in the compelling realism of his work.
Through hands-on practice, Nock devoted his life to the creation of realistic figures in bronze.
“I feel a responsibility to breathe life into untold stories, usually women, the culture bearers of any society. Oftentimes my subject will be African-Americans, whose way of life seems to have remained in touch with their heritage. One can still observe many of our traditions and ways of times past. Our history is reflected in our faces.”
His bronzes seem to embody a definite feeling of respect and passion regardless of vast subject matter.
Much of Nock’s work is derived from some indelible experience stored in the crevices of his mind.
Whether sculpting a figure from world history, a forgotten people, or a famed athlete Nock possesses the uncanny ability to capture the essence of his subject with a characteristic pose or expression. Perhaps it’s Nock’s early coursework in psychology that comes into play, leaving us with the feel that his bronze works are more than mere representations – but lifelike intimate glimpses into the very core of who his figures are.