march 2021 30
“This is a frozen
ocean storm, an
obstacle course of
crazy,” says Risser,
who hauled in
pounds of steel,
reels of wire, and
hand rolled all
the coping to
attain his vision.
workload was too
he had a heart
attack on the
property in 2016
his doctors about
heart issues for
12 years, but he
test and they could never find anything wrong. The doctors told
him that skateboarding had saved his life, as he had created his own
bypass (collaterals) around many of the blockages.
Since the heart attack, much of Risser’s work has featured hearts
at the center or as a theme. It would seem like a no-brainer to think
that the name of the gardens points to this, but it was named before
“It is the kind of place where we sow joy, so we named it Heartseed
Gardens,” Risser says.
If his work looks familiar, it could be because two of his sculptures
are located at Greenfield Grind Skate Park in Wilmington. Many of
his heart-centered pieces are featured at major medical centers, and
some of his earlier work can be found all over Greensboro. Risser is a
graduate of Guilford College and a lot of people there appreciate his
Risser is often asked to do commissioned pieces, but he usually
says no. The legacy he leaves behind and the simple joy that comes
from creating a work of art, just for the sake of creating a work of art,
are more interesting concepts.
Top to bottom: Life and Death, created in 2019, and Permanent Waves,
created in 2017, are installed among the trees on Tom Risser’s 80-acre
property, Heartseed Gardens.
§ TOM RISSER TOM RISSER