Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1962, Tom Haney has always been fascinated by mechanical movement. Once at the age of 2, he became separated from his family in a museum while being transfixed by a mechanical diorama. In subsequent years, his fascination would manifest itself often - he regularly took apart household items, much to his parents' disapproval. He took art classes in high school and attended college studying Industrial Design. Before becoming a full-time artist in 2000, his professional work consisted of making props, models and miniatures for television commercials, still photographers, and motion pictures.
"Although some see my work as a reaction to today’s throwaway society, I approach it as a way to reconnect with the past. I cherish traditions, not trends. I love the old ways of doing things, old tools and traditional techniques. Working with one’s hands still has value. I believe there is a magical transformation that happens when mechanical movement is added to a static figure. This movement captures a viewer’s attention and holds it to the point where they are drawn into interpreting the stories the piece conveys. They are not merely observers but collaborators.
My heroes have always been the pioneers, the inventors – Edison, Bell, the Wright Brothers – in the art world, the innovators – Calder, Picasso, Tinguely. The great Leonardo DaVinci, who did it all - painter, sculptor, scientist, engineer, and architect –was who I wanted to be when I grew up.
Having never wanted to be pigeonholed as an artist, I’ve sought to do unique works that combined many varied methods. Initially, I started with woodcarving - practically a lost art in our world - a tradition people have been using for centuries to tell their stories. Since any kind of mechanical movement has always been a fascination of mine, to combine this with figurative carvings became irresistibly compelling. Eventually I learned about automata, “a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being”, an ancient pursuit more thoroughly developed in the 13th – 19th centuries mostly in Europe but also in Asia. The work I create today is a modern offshoot of the time-honored Old World tradition of automata.
With the inclusion of collected found objects, another connection is made, albeit to a more recent past. I search out and collect, as an archivist or archeologist, discarded, obsolete artifacts and breathe new life into them as they are remodeled into devices that help tell my stories. Stories that often illustrate man’s perseverance to overcome life’s obstacles, often with open-ended narratives that are completed by the viewer."