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Tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I moved to Santa Cruz to attend the University of California at Santa Cruz. I then moved to San Francisco where I have lived for the past 10 years.
Who were your main influences growing up?
I always appreciated art growing up but never had any favorite artists so it is hard to pinpoint any specific influences. My uncle is a metal-worker and we always had lots of his pieces around the house, so he is one of my main influences growing up. I was also exposed to different art and creative influences all throughout elementary, junior high, and high school. Now, I have many artists that have influenced me, with my favorite and most influential being Alexander Calder.
How did your sculpture style develop?
My sculpture style developed by continuously working on my art. When I first started creating sculpture over nine years ago, I was attending City College of San Francisco. Class was held only two days a week, so I would work really hard and create lots of pieces to maximize my time. The very first piece I did I drew out what I wanted to make, measured, bought the materials and created the piece which turned out pretty close to the drawing. After this first piece, I would never again draw a sculpture on paper before I began nor would I work on one piece at a time. I work on pieces simultaneously, and ideas come to me as I pick out pieces of metal and begin playing with shape and form. I work intuitively, creating as I go, bending, cutting, shaping, and welding until the sculpture is created. As I became more involved with sculpture, I wanted to become a good welder too, so I took classes and worked professionally as a welder to improve my skills. This had a definite influence on my style, as I had a better foundation for metal-working and can execute stronger pieces. After several years at City College of San Francisco I needed more time to work, so I moved into my own studio at Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco. Now, I spend most of my time working in my studio. Now that I have become a much more skilled metal-worker, I can better execute my aesthetic ideas which have become more defined after years of working in this medium.
What materials do you use to create your work, and how much time is required?
The material I use to create my work is steel. I buy steel from scrapyards and metal shops. Almost all of the metal I used is recycled. I reclaim it and give it a new life. The metal comes from metal shops that recycle unwanted and unused material. Much of the material I use is pre-shaped or “drops” that I then use as is, or manipulate into some other form. I require a lot of time to create each individual one-of-a-kind sculpture. I never work on a piece from start to finish; I always work on multiple pieces at once, going back and forth between pieces. The entire process is very involved, beginning with hand-picking all the pieces of metal at the scrapyard, assembling the pieces, cutting, heating, bending and shaping the material, figuring out the best way to put the sculpture together, and welding and grinding until the shape and form is complete. A large part of the process is grinding down welds and smoothing surfaces to give the piece a look of continuous flow. I spend a lot of time on the final finish using different techniques including heating the metal, patinas, solvents, dyes, and oxides, and finally coat each piece with a protective sealer. Most often, the general shape and form of the piece comes quickly to me, but the actual fabricating and finishing is the most labor intensive and time consuming part of executing a piece.
Where do you get your inspirational/creative ideas?
I wish I knew! I feel very inspired and creative all the time. I believe it is from being in my studio, surrounded by all my metal and tools, feeling eager to work, and using my hands to execute my ideas. When I am in my studio, the ideas just come to me and I go from there. I am sure there are many subconscious places I receive inspiration from, but consciously I don’t exactly know.
What has been the most rewarding and challenging project you have worked on?
The most rewarding and challenging project I have worked on is not one specific piece, but rather breaking through on a piece that is difficult to finish or complete. It is most rewarding to walk into my studio, have a breakthrough and be able to finish a piece that was at a standstill for several months because I couldn’t figure out how to balance it or what the piece needed.
From your portfolio, what is your favorite piece? Why?
My favorite piece changes often. Usually the piece I have just completed is my favorite because I have spent so much time working on it. Then the next piece I complete becomes my favorite. But, at the moment the one piece in particular that I am very fond of is Sculpture #149. The top part of the sculpture is just attached by the narrow piece of metal that is bent over and I like the sense of balance. Also, I prepared the metal and wanted to heat it to bring out some of the natural color, and was amazed at the very intense and beautiful blue color that came out. Usually the metal can turn blue, but never have I achieved such a rich, bright and intense blue. This piece is very special as I have never been able to re-create the color and so this sculpture is one of my favorites.
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