Peter Fillerup was born in Cody, Wyoming, the Cowboy Capital of the World, home to “Buffalo Bill” and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and grew up in the Wyoming Rockies. Living on a small ranch twenty miles east of Yellowstone National Park gave him the opportunity of firsthand observation of the colorful and legendary American West. With the wonders of nature around him and the availability of Yellowstone’s wildlife, Fillerup developed a profound respect for nature and a love for the western way of life.
His interest in sculpture came at an early age when his father, Mel Fillerup, once a lawyer and then a full-time painter, brought him his first brick of clay. “I was amazed at all the things a person could make with a piece of clay. At an early age I was making small animals,” Fillerup said. He cast two small figures while still in high school.
After high school, Peter studied sculpture under John Morford at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. Later he went to Brigham Young University and studied with Frans Johansen and Dallas Anderson. After leaving BYU, he began an apprenticeship with one of America’s foremost sculptors, Dr. Avard Fairbanks. Fillerup’s internship lasted several years. During this time he aided in such projects as the Peace Monument erected in the International Peace Garden in Salt Lake City and the fifteen foot Angel Moroni for the Mormon Temple in Seattle, Washington. He also accompanied Dr. Fairbanks to Italy where he became familiar with the arts of enlarging and working in marble, and gained valuable training in various foundry techniques.
Establishing himself as a western artist, Fillerup is the youngest artist to have his work accepted and displayed at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and was selected to erect an equestrian monument to John “Jerimiah” Johnson, that now graces Johnson’s grave at the Old West Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming.