By Mr. Eric Pilgrim (Fort Knox News)December 20, 2017
When Joshua Perry looks at ice, he sees possibilities. He sees beauty. He sees art.
He lives seamlessly in two worlds.
In the world of the Army, the sergeant first class at U.S. Army Human Resources Command works as talent management noncommissioned officer for the culinary specialist career path.
In the world of art, Perry turns huge blocks of ice into whatever his imagination conjures, whenever he can.
According to Perry, his desire to create something artistically started early, but the direction didn't take shape after he was grown.
"I was artistic as a child, and my grandfather was an art professor," he said. "I joined
the Army as a culinarian. This is one of the things we do on Thanksgiving, so it was on a Thanksgiving that I got into it."
Perry was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky on Thanks-giving Day 2009 when his opportunity to sculpt ice manifested itself.
People took notice. Eventually, he ended up stationed in Hawaii managing other culinary artists. While there, he found a fellow sculptor.
"I was fortunate enough to get teamed up with a guy by the name of Jeff Lein," Perry said. "We carved ice together, and we just immediately clicked. We were on the same wave length when we carved, so we started practicing; we started traveling around competing in ice carving competitions."
That was the start of it."
Perry's reputation grew, and with it, more responsibilities. His path led to Fort Knox, where he is in charge of assignments for other culinary artists -- an office, with a desk, and a computer.
"When I came here to Fort Knox, I thought I was going to put my ice carving tools down and that was going to be the end of it," he said. "Obviously that was not what I was wanting to do. I wanted to continue to carve because I really enjoy it."
The 2016 Human Resources Command ball was coming up. Seeing an opportunity, Perry volunteered to carve an ice sculpture for it. There was only one problem -- he needed a place to freeze ice.
Cory Baxter, manager of Patriot Commons, provided the solution, lending Perry space in the freezers.
"I thought it was just going to be that one sculpture and then the tools were going back up," said Perry.
Baxter came through again, providing space for Perry to leave his tools.
As a thank you, Perry started carving ice sculptures for Patriot Commons, which led him to Saber & Quill, and eventually to Shauna West at MWR Marketing.
It was there on Sept. 15 where Perry's art entered a much larger stage -- center stage, in fact, at Saber & Quill, where a massive icy Old Forester bourbon bottle towered over everybody who came for dinner before attending a world premiere showing of "Kingsman: The Secret Service" at Waybur Theater.
Many enquired about the mysterious artist who carved the beautiful bottle. There was growing interest in Perry's art, but few had ever witnessed him carving in real time. That is, until Friday night.
Perry said he had wanted to sculpt ice outside at last year's Christmas tree lighting event but the weather didn't favor it and he didn't have the ice made in time. This year's event would the first opportunity to showcase his work while others watched.
"Anytime you can make a community event better with ice, it's awesome," he
said. It's been a good experience for me. Hopefully for the
next year, at least, I can continue on."
As he turned his attention to the 1.2 tons of blocked ice that were beginning to look like a glistening 8-foot tall Christmas tree beneath his sander, the residual ice dust drifted toward two girls standing nearby.
They laughed, and danced in the unexpected snowfall blanketing them on a cold, cloudless evening.