What influences translate into your art practice?
Personal experience, societal issues, politics, music, pop culture, immigration policies and stories, language and semantics, baroque art and sculpture, religious art, dogmatic belief structures of organized religion, and fairy tales – mostly of the Disney variety. I might have left one out, but I think this covers it.
Has this changed the way you approach your work?
No, rather it shaped the way I approach my work. When I was really beginning to develop as an artist, I was lucky enough to be connected with an incredibly supportive and versatile glass community at Tyler and later Illinois State. The influences that have become the basis for my artistic career came out of the influence, critiques, conversations, and collaborations with artists from the community. While I do feel (though some may not agree) that my work has evolved and become more eloquent in its delivery, the basic theoretical approach has remained consistent – at least in my eyes.
What initially captured your imagination about glass?
Aside from the sexy physicality of the material which is of course is seductive and mesmerizing, I was most drawn to the teamwork and social aspects I saw within the community. I think this aspect is what really drew me in. As a young artist I was at a crossroads and planning on dropping out of Tyler; the faculty and students of the community really pulled me in giving me an outlet and place that I felt at home.
What’s the significance of the handmade to you?
I have been thinking about this a lot recently. Ten years ago, I would have told you that it was not important, completely disregarding the fact that I pretty much make every single part of my sculptures; I think in my ignorance I was confusing craftsmanship with the handmade. As a glassmaker, I periodically make work for other artists and am always curious as to why they work with me, given the rather specific nature of what I do, and I believe that decision comes from the importance I place on handmade. That being said and one of the reasons I have a conflicted view about this subject is that I do not think that it needs to be equally important for every maker. Personally, I know that my emotional and instinctual artistic nature sets in and influences each sculpture during the handmade portion of the process and gives credence and importance to the conceptual and cerebral aspects. Artistically I think that this is not important for everyone, but I believe this is what makes me a better sculptor, constantly trying to push beyond my own limits due to my own insecurities.
What was your route to becoming an artist?
I feel like I am still in the middle of it.
What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
I am definitely more drawn to solid and blown sculpting, though I also spend some time blowing glass more ‘traditionally’ at Gent Glas. Glass though is only part of my process. Typically, I create all of the different components – hands, arts, head, legs, etc. – and fix them together with a variety of materials. Most of the figurative work is supported with a metal skeleton and assembled together with polystyrene and epoxy. Once the basic structure is in place, I make the clothing with digitally printed or vinyl-cut designs. The clothing is mostly constructed through the layering of different fabrics and surfaced with epoxy resin, giving me the opportunity to give structure and have control over the “flow” to the fabric.
How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary glass?
I would describe my work as pop-political. The sphere of contemporary glass is so versatile, it is hard to say a specific place but I guess I would say conservatively somewhere between Lino and Billy Morris.
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
I try to work regularly at Gent Glas, but I find that I sometimes am more productive on a residency when I do not have to worry about the studio operations. For the mixed media work, I have a studio together with Marta Byrdziak in Gent, where we have enough space to work however we want.
Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics?
Bernini, Tony Matelli, Edward Kienholz, Doreen Garner, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Maurizio Cattelan, Marcel Duchamp, John Miller, Sibylle Peretti, Yayoi Kasama, Emma Salamon, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Salt, Dean Allison, Martin Janecky, David LaChapelle, Carmen DeVos, Judith Schaechter.
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
Being in the final year of my PhD at the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy in Wroclaw, I am pretty regularly investigating the inspiration mentioned above and referring to the artists above.