One of the greatest things about Marywood University’s Art Department is that they have many visiting artists accompanied with an “Artist Talk” where the student can learn first-hand advice from active artists. For example, this week’s visiting artist, James Biederman talked about his experience with the Yaddo Residency in which he received his own studio and was able to condense himself down and concentrate solely on his art due to the limited amount of time he had, as well as, the limited amount of material. He also explained how he met a number of other artists such as painters, musicians, composers…Who wouldn’t want to do something like this!?
From Painting to Sculpture
Biederman recently changed his art-form from painting to sculpture: “I wanted it to be intuitive and an interaction; I wanted something to make with my own hands.” So, he went to the local farm store, and acquired some materials such as: plumbing for boats, barbed wire, fencing wire, bamboo sticks, plaster, and so on. What really is signature to Biederman’s sculptures is that he leaves an interior space for the viewer to enter within them. He explains that when one is looking through the piece it takes away from it being an object and more of an experience.
“You can go inside my dream space, my thinking space.”
For example, in this piece he speaks of the little wires as “Places you can go to hide out. The viewer can go in there, and hide and sleep; these could be homes, people’s houses.”
“When you name something it changes the whole way you look at it, and it gives it context.”
Biederman made this piece out of the urge of wanting to do something classical. He explains how the wire shoots around in an act of desperation. The big loop also provides a spot for the viewer to look through.
“Two Paintings Talking to Each Other”
Biederman explains how he did a residency in New Orleans and they “took us to a swamp…”
The best part of this sculpture, for me, was that Biederman took an old beach chair and turned it upside down. This reminded me that your materials are not truly limited to anything, and to always be looking for moments and objects like this.
Biederman gave some words of advice that I wrote down and kept. Maybe I’ll never read them over again, but it’s always good to write these things down so they can get delivered to your hippocampus in high-speed over-night shipping, rather than not arriving at all.
Here they are for you to ponder on, reader:
“You can’t lie to yourself.”
“You have this amazing opportunity of being alive, and having a studio and materials, so, do something about it.”
Courtesy of the artist James Biederman