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public art

I had a great time in Miami last week checking out the city’s annual art fairs, marking my first visit to this city and my first time taking in an international art fair. The sheer number of art venues was mind boggling, and the range of work on display showcased the remarkable character of contemporary art. This was a truly amazing experience, and I definitely feel inspired in my own studio practice after gathering so much visual inspiration. Here’s a few highlights from this trip:

Scope International Contemporary Art Show

UNTITLED, Miami Beach

Art Basel Miami Beach

Spectrum Miami & Red Dot Miami 

Art Miami

Rubelll Family Collection

PULSE Contemporary Art Fair

Art Basel Miami Beach-Public Art Section

INK Miami Art Fair 

Aqua Art Miami 

Miami Project

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In 1956, sculptor Milton Horn created carved stone pylons for the West Virginia University School of Medicine Morgantown Campus. These four towering columns contain eight carved relief scenes celebrating the history of medicine. As a tribute to his late wife Estelle, Horn donated his original plaster studies of these pylons to the West Virginia University School of Medicine Charleston Campus in 1982. In a collaborative effort between West Virginia University Health Sciences and the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts, I was commissioned to reproduce these panels for display at the West Virginia University School of Medicine Eastern Campus in Martinsburg, symbolically linking our university’s three medical school campuses. I delivered and installed the first panel in August, and the second panel was delivered in mid-October. I am on track to finish and deliver three more panels this academic year, and I expect to fully complete this project by fall 2017.

The Eastern Pylons project is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever undertaken, and I’m really pleased with the results. This project has allowed me to combine my knowledge of casting and metal fabrication methods to create large scale finished artworks, while also affording me on-the-job training in the use of new art-making materials, such as Winterstone-casting mix and Smooth-On Equinox silicone rubber mold putty. Working at this scale is certainly not a one-person job, so I am forever grateful to my student workers Cornelius Hugo, Kevin Brennan, and Matt Jarrett, as their hard work and camaraderie has been instrumental in the success of this project.

 

 

 

This past semester, I participated in a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics ) education project at Morgantown’s North Elementary School. Sponsored by a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, this project had three primary components, one of which was to create a garden environment for attracting regional birds. My WVU School of Art and Design colleague Joseph Lupo helped the North students use their bird research to create mini comics, while my sculpture students and I focused on designing and building a birdhouse structure.

To begin the birdhouse component of this project, my sculpture students were tasked with creating steel butterflies, flowers, snails, and leaves, which tied into our classroom study of forging, welding, and other metal fabrication techniques. Meanwhile, 4th grade students from North were utilizing their bird research, drawing these creatures onto steel panels with chalk. I took these panels back to our studio and cut them out with a plasma torch, and then these bird panels and my sculpture students’ flora and fauna were cleaned up and painted in multiple bright colors.

I set wooden posts in concrete and built the final birdhouse structure with my friend Aaron Lutz, a WVU forestry program student working at North this year with the AmeriCorps VISTA program. The completed piece contains approximately nine birdhouses, 33 steel bird panels, 33 steel items created by my sculpture students, and a stainless steel nameplate. This project gave my students and I the opportunity to collaborate with students, teachers, and administrators at North in a truly unique manner, and out of the things I did in this amazingly busy school year, this was probably the most enjoyable project to take on.

 

 

I recently finished work on a solar tree prototype, a collaborative project between the School of Art and Design and the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at West Virginia University. This yearlong endeavor involved our sculpture program working with Ramana Reddy, professor of computer science and electrical engineering in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and his students. The overarching goal of the solar tree was to create a comfortable, shaded area, utilizing the electricity for those enjoying the tree’s shade to charge electronic devices, gain wireless internet access, and connect with its informational interface. There was a dynamic quality to this project, as it brought together individuals from various backgrounds and areas of expertise in an attempt to tackle some of the pressing issues of our time. Now that the solar tree has made its debut, we can begin the dialogue on finding this structure a more permanent home on campus and modify the prototype to make it more appropriate for long term display.

After an intense summer filled with numerous teaching obligations & round-the-clock art-making, I am happy to announce the opening of my solo exhibition Match Cut in the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center’s Laura Mesaros Gallery. On view from September 1-October 2, this show explores our collective need for classification and organization, especially as the desires and limitations of our organic bodies conflict with this quest for order. I use various fabrication techniques and meticulous craftsmanship to explore these conceptual interests, manipulating iconic imagery & familiar objects from our educational, governmental, and scientific institutions in order to draw attention to the impermanent & transitory nature of cultural authority.

This exhibition takes its title, Match Cut, from a film editing technique where seamless transitions between scenes help draw together the visual, metaphorical connections between objects and actions. I drew inspiration from this cinematic device, creating a series of cast & forged metal sculptures, mixed media panel works, and manipulated found object pieces that are cozily familiar yet imbued with surreal, dreamlike qualities. I really like the way this new body of work fits together, and I look forward to creating more artwork in the same vein.

Looking back on 2013, I think the most challenging yet enjoyable project I took part in was the Morgantown Tree by artist Carol Hummel.

The School of Art and Design at West Virginia University invited Hummel to be a visiting artist for the 2013-2014 academic year. In addition to having a gallery exhibition, she put forth a proposal to work with students and community members to cover a large tree on our Evansdale Campus with crocheted yarn. Hummel has an impressive record of creating similar crocheted installations in Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Drangedal, Norway and New Delhi, India, so I thought it would be quite a coup for her to create a project in Morgantown.

Once Hummel’s project was approved, a workforce had to be organized to make all the crocheted elements. I served as Hummel’s de facto project manager, helping her coordinate with the university and community groups involved in the installation. Because this was a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity, we decided early on that our sculpture students would assist Hummel. Members of the Morgantown community, including campus knitting groups and residents at The Village at Heritage Point (a senior retirement community), also made invaluable contributions to this project. There was palpable synergy among all participants, and due to excellent teamwork and a stretch of great weather, the installation was finished in only six days.

The Morgantown Tree was created in conjunction with Morgantown’s 2013 celebration of The Year of the Tree (YOTT). By choosing a prominent location for this installation, Hummel’s project enjoyed high visibility for both on-and off-campus populations. She used an open stitch for this installation, which allows the trees to breathe without damaging their growth, and her chosen synthetic yarn will hold its color well for the next several years.