William "Rocky" Sapp's artistic roots run deep in Missouri soil. Born in Cape Girardeau, and reared in Southeast Missouri's "Bootheel", Sapp's early beginnings as a portrait artist have never wavered. He has always been fascinated, even awed, by the miracle of the human face and form. Working directly from the model to create a living expression of a person is both artistically fulfilling for Sapp, and emotionally satisfying for the person who owns one of his works. He says that his international sculptural installations have won prizes and respect in the contemporary art world and connected him to the spirit of his times. But, the intense rapport that develops while the artist is working from another human being is, for Sapp, the more deeply compelling experience-enhancing life, stopping time, and transforming craft into Art.
The span between Sapp's traditional, vividly life-like, portraiture to his satirical, socio-political installations involving thousands of exquisitely crude human forms he calls 'dogs', is wide indeed-and the latter has compelled strong responses from art writers: Margaret Garcia in Bogota, Colombia's La Prensa, wrote that Sapp's 'dogs' "jab their fingers into the wounds of humanity,"while Cory Dugan in Sculpture, stated "the principle subject of his installation is the male gender, the male in society...the male as uncivilized animal, at once noble and pathetic in his dumb slavishness...his lack of civilization illogically defining civilization itself..." Christopher Garcia in the Australian art magazine Ceramics-Technical, says "Sapp's work has the underlying message of mankind's "beastliness" as he trudges through the world. The pain and suffering humanity causes for itself and our Earth is represented by swarming plagues of his "Dogmen". These small beings crawl over and bury the nobility of the human spirit, crushing it under hundreds of little feet." Warren Criswell, noted artist, compared Sapp and his 'dogs' to a Kafkaesque, "vindictive Rabbi of Prague frantically shaping not one golem but a whole army of them!...Only then will the artist/rabbi whisper the secret words which will animate them, "I always remembered the story about Donatello commanding his Il Zuccone, to 'speak!" Sapp told me." Phil Williams in The Franklin Chronicle, wrote "Sapp makes sculptural "dogs" out of wire armatures and clay, and uses them to point out that "humans may not be as high on the evolutionary ladder as we think we are." Sapp himself made this darkly humorous statement for the exhibition Sex, Love, And Death, "Someone once told me that by referring to humans as dogs I was doing dogs a disservice." And finally, Juan Alberto Gaviria, Gallery Director of Centro Colombo Americano in Medellin, Colombia, said, "The scenarios of Sapp, with his dogs and his eye of continuous self-criticism, make us sensitive to the occurrence of our "unknown adventure", in order for us to learn to discern between the violence and the tenderness inside us."
William Sapp sees both sides of 'the human condition' and attempts to reconcile them in the different directions of his work-from the madness of the stampeding crowd to the beauty of the individual. Sapp's dark humor stretches to include the tenderness of poet Franz Wright, who says, "How is it that I didn't spend my whole life being happy, loving other human being's faces"...and , "by the way thank You for keeping Your face hidden, I can hardly bear the beauty of this world." Sapp and Wright both seem to have listened when Rumi says..."out beyond ideas of doing good and evil there is a field, I'll meet you there..."