Monday, November 27, 2006

Art Space Talk: Donald Bruschi

I recently interviewed artist Donald Bruschi. Mr. Bruschi's work is conceptual and contemporary. He explores sculpture, installation, time, performance, and photography by utilizing rays of light. In a sense, his work documents how light can be used to create art.

Mr. Bruschi is known for his 'Light Drawings'. These 'drawings' are time exposure photographs that involve intricate installations and live models that wave neon tubes as the photos are being taken.

The light accumulates on the film with interesting results. In a sense, they are an amalgamation of time and space. Donald documents the outcome as if he were some form of scientist.

These works blur the line between installation, sculpture, performance, and photography. They allow Donald to explore his ideas while pushing technological limits.

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "I made some art/craft stuff in high school that opened the door to art school. I still have some sculptures and prints from the early 1980’s. I got into juried shows starting in 1984. I got serious about art in college and never stopped."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "Ok, let’s look at James at Ask (image above). I set up It’s Just Light: There’s Not Much Too It For my solo show at the Arts Society of Kingston last summer and then did light drawings. I think this was the first morning the sculpture was ready. With light drawing you wave a light source around with the camera’s shutter open. You are working in the dark. The light accumulates on the film. You don’t see what you get until you get your pictures back. It’s with my experience, with film, exposure times, what lens etc, that enables me to get at least a few good shots per roll, usually. I wanted a lot of images because I had to get proofs to the photo printer. I showed three 30"x40" photographs as part of the show. I also projected slides at the opening. I needed good images in a couple of days. There we were, light drawing in a big gallery in front of a sculpture, it was great. I shot a few hundred images over 2 days."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "Last fall for my show at the Islip Art Museum’s Carriage House I set up a sculpture and did light drawings. I pretty much had the idea worked out after my show at the Art Society of Kingston. I wanted to do light drawing earlier in the process and with more people. I did my first light drawing in Islip right after my truck was unloaded with the gallery assistant. Next I set up a sculpture, The Un-Great Wall which would be my light drawing stage. Some of these light drawings were shown as part of the show. I did light drawings with a lot of different people as I set up the rest of my show. Some of the people who helped out were Director of the Museum, Mary Lou Cohalen as well as a few of the other artists. Someone walked in looking for the previous show, next thing she knew she was light drawing.

The other part of the process is the actual sculpture or installation. I work with light in my sculptures, an important my sculpting process is about what the light will look like and how it interacts with the rest of the sculpture. Presently I am working with light coming out of the negative spaces of I-Beams. I also work with stone, steel, wood and other materials. I have a piece with a tree in Exit Art’s City Lights show right now. In Idea Under Construction I use all types of stuff to create a workshop in which sculptures appear to be under construction. I fabricate most of my stuff. I make my own neon, I weld, work with metal, wood, I make all sorts of stuff."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I think they chose me."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "Being an artist, for me, has really made me look deep inside at a number of things. How far one can push and develop ideas is amazing. I get a lot of enjoyment as I see my skills improving. The quality of my work this summer was really good, I spent time with the fit and finish; it looked great. To keep going is a testament to believing in yourself. Its just common knowledge that you’re not going to get into every show, every gallery or have every proposal accepted. Once you accept that you’re past the point of no return. Basically my life revolves around art."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "I’ve always been inspired by Fred Tschida, one of my professors at Alfred University. Through Fred I learned about conceptual art, that you could follow your ideas and the final result might be art. The process and the documentation of the process could also be art. I’m mostly inspired by conceptual artists who broke new ground. Jackson Pollack is a good example. The guy decides to throw paint around and the rest is history. Marcel Duchamp too. Duchamp says anything can be art, I say then anyone can make art. That’s why it’s important to do my light drawings with many different people. At the Islip Art Museum last summer I did Light Drawings with a gallery assistant as soon as the truck was unloaded. I also like Tim Hawkinson, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Jason Rhodes, Damien Hirst. My favorite painting is Architects Dream by Thomas Cole. A lot of people inspire me, I like to keep an open mind."
Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today?

A. "I like the world we live in and my art is a statement about that. You could not make the stuff I make without photography or electricity. My work is a reflection of my mental, physical and technical state. Some of my heroes outside of the art world are Albert Einstein, Einstein studied light amongst other things. I am fond of Nicolai Tesla and Thomas Edison, both tireless inventors who worked with light, electricity and mysterious phenomena. The last book I read was Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography. Franklin was an extraordinary person on many levels, and, oh yea, he experimented with electricity."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art?

A. "I earned a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 3 Dimensional Studies from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1983. Alfred U is a great place. I worked with professors who taught craft and technique as well as concept. Aesthetics were up to the students. My professors were supportive and open minded. I have remained friends with some of them and could show up at their houses tonight and be welcome to stay."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "I keep my website pretty current: You can see more work there. I have a few shows in the works, I post upcoming shows on my website."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "My website has a links page. You can check places I have shown at as well as some art organizations."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "To me it looks like we are in a period of individual expression. There are sooooo many artists. It’s not like Europe 100 years ago when Impressionism or Cubism blossomed. I see more creativity and innovation than a unified approach. With the technology I can see work from all over the world in an instant. I see the Internet as a huge resource, you’re reading this, aren’t you? The Internet is phenomenal for finding out about shows, I remember getting Sculpture Magazine in the 80’s and a lot of the deadlines had passed before it was even printed. It’s important to know where we with technology as well as art history."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Make art the most important thing in your life. Believe in yourself, keep pushing, be open minded and keep reinventing yourself. Search for materials, techniques. processes and imagery that you resonate with. Read the writings of other artists. Don’t be afraid to throw stuff out. Dennis Oppenhiem said (in the 1960’s) after a show they would just throw out what didn’t sell. Get involved in local arts organizations, hang out with other artists, share ideas and resources."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "I haven’t been far enough away from rock bottom to know. Its not like I ever thought of giving it up but everything is still a push. I get shows, I have a nice, well equipped studio and stuff. I was at an opening in Chelsea, NY last month. The artist sold about 10 $75,000 paintings before the show even opened, I was inspired. I could use a show like that!"

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "I am on a journey, I think of stuff, develop my ideas, people put my work in art shows, I get feed back and I’m off to the next step; it’s a thrilling and stimulating ride, I have met and worked with incredible people."

Q. Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM?

A. "Yes, under DonaldBruschi. Or look in the Installation or Sculpture section"

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I live in New Paltz, NY a small town with a bit of an "artsy" reputation. We do have a nice arts center: Unison Arts, as well as SUNY New Paltz with the Dorsky Art Museum and a Fine Arts program as well as other places that show and support the arts. I also belong to the Arts Society of Kingston. Kingston is a small city and has a more vibrant and eclectic arts community. I can be in NYC in an hour or so; with it’s too numerous to mention museums and literally hundreds of galleries, NYC’s still the "Place"."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about the 'art world'?

A. "It’s a great place to be!"

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Donald Bruschi.
Check out his work on the main site by searching for DonaldBruschi. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

It is good.

Henrik Noer said...

Absolutely wonderful colours, indeed.