Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Native Talent Unearthed Dermatologist Finds in Himself a Talent as Sculptor of American Indians of the East

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Native Talent Unearthed Dermatologist Finds in Himself a Talent as Sculptor of American Indians of the East

Article excerpt

As a dermatologist, Dr. Mark P. Seraly has fleshed out a good career in skin. But in his limited spare time, his interests skew slightly toward the shinier makeshift "skin" of an artistic variety.

Seraly's hobby-turn-second career is bronze sculpture.

The skin doctor has become a gifted sculptor specializing in works featuring American Indians, including famous chiefs and dramatic historic events.

And whether he is doctoring or sculpting, his interest is anchored in human anatomy: real or cast, flesh or metal, suntanned or coated with patina. This doctor is fascinated with coverings. In his career, as with his artwork, beauty is skin deep.

"I participated in 50 autopsies, and I study portraits and nudes all day long [at work]," he said. "What I've learned artistically to do is to understand the cannons of proportion and aesthetics and the lights and shading of the skin."

Seraly, 40, of Canonsburg, has a medical practice on East McMurray Road in Peters, where his waiting room is an eye-catching gallery of his own bronze sculptures.

They include bronze figures reflecting historic detail and bolstered by magnificent wooden pedestals he helped Joe Burek design. Burek built them in his Burek Wood Products in Cross Creek. The pedestals stand as works of art with bronze plaques, copper inlay and hardwood detail.

"You can't go to a furniture store and buy a good pedestal," Seraly said.

Burek said he and Seraly have worked together for years to make sculptures and wood pedestals that complement each other in style and color. Burek reaction to Seraly's sculptures?

"Incredible," he said, noting that each has greater detail. "Every time I see another piece, it amazes me. He just keeps getting better and better."

As certain as Seraly's sculptures portray skin accurately, they also reflect serious historic research that translates into detail. "I try to capture the Native American from a realistic, historical approach," he said.

Seraly's specialty is sculptures of American Indians from East Coast and southwestern Pennsylvania tribes, the Iroquois, Shawnee and Delaware. Most American Indian artwork, including those of Frederick Remington, focus on Western tribes.

Seraly has begun landing commissions and has sold a number of limited edition copies of his sculptures. It's given this dermatologist the itch to take his sculpting to the next level. He is seeking commissions for public works and museum pieces.

"It started as a hobby, but now it's becoming another career," Seraly said. "It's a passion of mine."

Although Seraly grew up in New Jersey, his grandparents are from Monongahela, providing him familiarity with the area. He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College, where he met his wife, Loretta, then graduated from Jefferson Medical College.

Along the way, Seraly developed an interest in art. But getting a medical degree and setting up a dermatology practice left him little time for hobbies. One advantage to being a dermatologist, he said, is the routine schedule, even if he does work 60-hour weeks.

With only 8,000 of them nationwide, dermatologists remain in great demand. He said he treats 150 to 200 people a week, and anyone who calls today will have to wait until July for an appointment.

But eight years ago, he had a discussion with a jewelry artist who sensed his interest in art. …

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