I’ve always been an artist, making art of one kind or another since I was 10 years old. When I chose a career, I decided engineering had better job prospects, but I was compelled to keep making art. The source of my artistic style – and why I make this kind of art – has its roots in the college ceramics classes I took as electives for my engineering degree. I was heavily influenced by pioneering ceramic artists such as Peter Voulkos, John Mason and Paul Soldner. The expressionistic dynamism instilled in their work inspired me to develop a less refined aesthetic. I don’t get precious in constructing my pieces, I don’t make the sides smooth, I don’t hide brushstrokes. I make thick, defining shapes and edges, break off pieces, burn holes, pile on textures and then finesse the chaos as a part of the art. I continued creating with ceramics, developing my style until, after a multi-year tour of other mediums, I started sculpting with Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). The ability to cut, carve and melt EPS in nearly endless ways, combined with a broad array of options to texture the surfaces, brought me full circle to a clay-like flexibility without the weighty materials. I now build larger, substantive sculptures more easily than with just about any other medium.
My inspiration comes from several sources, but primarily nature; our physical world is full of textures, shapes, colors, patterns, silhouettes and contrasts. Another source is my deep curiosity about art and other artists. Beyond solely the visual aspects of the work, I draw meaning from their processes, lives and challenges. Finally, I’m frequently inspired in real time during the process of creation. The manipulation of materials, lightning bolts of insight and the act of construction itself will produce spontaneous additions to a piece. Similarly, there are frequent “failures,” results I didn’t intend but end up producing something I can use. Many of these moments yield breakthroughs that become enduring elements of my work.
The process of creation comes in three phases: concept, construction and finishing. I frequently record design and process ideas in my sketchbook and save images from all kinds of sources. Periodically I will go back and collect the best concepts to form a design but sometimes the idea for a piece will be found in the moment. Many ideas come from my muse; I listen intently whenever she shows up to help!
Construction includes cutting out the EPS that forms the core of the sculpture, coating the near final form with cement (for durability) and applying my texture compounds. The finishing includes the application of a copper metal coating, patinas, iron particles, acrylic paints and a polyurethane finish.
Most art reflects something of the artist that created it; in my case it’s the synergy of opposites. My art is very expressionistic with free form designs, often created with wild spontaneity. But at the same time, it can be loaded with highly crafted and stylized details, allowing the viewer to have a range of emotional reactions to my creations. This comes from the abstract right-brain artist making nice with the detail oriented left-brain engineer!
My art embodies an element of renewal: the repurposing of packaging styrofoam into desirable works of art. That rebirth is a part of my own story: a 30+ year career as an engineer, emerging now as a full-time artist, constantly working on my own growth and reinvention. My unique processes, combinations of materials and background all synergize to produce truly original contemporary artwork.
Art, to me, is a form of communication, a discourse with oneself: me with myself, in making it; you with yourself, in experiencing it. Making art is also my salvation. I am compelled to make it, I cannot NOT make it. I feel that it’s an extension of my own inner journey. In creating a piece of art that resonates, that really works, I experience a boost of absolute joy and want to share that emotional, spiritual and intellectual moment with others.