ISC/GFS Resident | Tyler Gaston: Inspired to Create

Things have settled down a bit since I first arrived at the Residency.  I have found a groove in the studio and have been primarily working on two large projects.  These new sculptures were conceived from life scale models I made during my first week here.  Recently I have been inspired by architectural materials and sculptural forms of mass and weight.  I am also embracing the freedom and permission to create.  As an artist, this experience is psychologically different than my recent time spent in academia.

Wood has always been the primary material of my art practice, the material which I most personally connect with as a being and a maker.  Although wood still has its place in the composition of my new sculptures, it has been refreshing to focus my attention on other materials.  What if wood becomes secondary and is no longer playing the lead role?  What if the same ideologies of working with wood are applied to other materials?

Project 1, process image

I am beginning to broadcast my perceptions and experiences of working with wood onto other mediums.  Traditionally, in my work the wooden forms exist in tension with denser materials such as steel or concrete.  During the past few weeks, I have discovered the manifestation of tensions which exist between alternative materials.  I view it as a situation of conflict, but also one which carries ideologies of healing and repair.  As a result of my thesis work I am still contemplating the internal struggles which exist between the mind and the body.  In addition, I am intrigued by other competing forces which exist naturally around, and within us, as part of the human condition.

Another project I am working on consists of a steel form sitting on top of a large wooden wedge.  The form is inverted, in the image shown belo, in order to test fit the cardboard model prior to milling the wedge from a cherry log.  The base will be a concrete block of similar proportions.  This piece is a continuation of my exploration in minimalistic, geometric forms composed of materials existing in tension with one another.

Project 2, process image

Outside of the studio, I went on an exciting field trip with Shohei to Princeton University.  A member of the Seward Johnson Atelier staff connected us with the Education Manager at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.  There were noted similarities existing between the disciplines of art, science, and the natural world which made this visit intriguing.  We received a fascinating tour of their facility and in return I left better educated on the field of plasma physics.  It was also very inspiring to hear discussions on collaboration opportunities between the disciplines of art and science.  Our conversations touched upon the importance of residency opportunities that are interdisciplinary and the hidden art forms which exist within science that often go unnoticed. 

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Princeton University

I enjoy experiencing art in new settings and Princeton University had a great art museum that Shohei and I were able to check out while on campus.  While in graduate school I watched an Art21 segment on Nick Cave and was fascinated by his Soundsuit sculptures.  Seeing one in person was a special experience.  I could feel the presence and energy contained within the Soundsuit and could imagine what it would be like to see a live performance.

Sound Suit
 Nick Cave

Time is flying by here, and it has been difficult to find a balance between seeing art and working in the studio.  Regardless, this is proving to be a very inspirational and fulfilling experience during the first half of the ISC Residency at Grounds For Sculpture.  I am looking forward to finishing my first two sculptures and plan to spend the next few weeks challenging myself in new ways as an artist. 

Today in the studio we acquired a large amount of Bamboo cut from within the GFS.  It was removed due to its invasive properties as it posed a potential threat to adjacent botanical life. 

Studio image of Bamboo gathered from GFS
 Tyler Gaston

During the next few weeks I am considering the idea of creating a site-specific installation using this material, while continuing a dialogue on human condition and the cyclic actions of decay and repair. If you are in the area and would like a firsthand glance into the Residency experience stop by the Open Studio scheduled for Saturday, July 27th from 4:00-6:00pm.  And be sure to leave plenty of time to wander the Grounds.

By Tyler Gaston

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