Shohei Katayama Farewell | ISC/GFS Summer Residency

Hand drawn gold sharpie doodle on black acrylic, 80” x 99”

The International Sculpture Center residency at Grounds for Sculpture was a fruitful experience that pushed me to create, reflect, and consider the content of my work and my identity as an artist — I had an exhilarating time engaging in conversations with artists, educators, and staff that I hope to take with me to the future. 

My final weeks at GFS were eventful: making prototypes/designs for a collaborative bamboo piece, drawing mindlessly in the apartment during the heatwave, visiting Mana Contemporary for studio visits, having an open studio event with fellow AIR Tyler, and exhibiting a temporary work on GFS’s site. One thing I hoped to commit to more was immersing myself in the site. While the materials I brought to the residency resonated with the work I have done previously and provided me a foundation to create a decent amount of “art”, it might have discouraged me to pursue innovative thoughts or approaches that can only be generated within the confines of GFS. To clarify, I do not have any regrets — only lessons I can apply to the future.

The open studio event was exciting — it generated dialogues with staff that did not have the opportunity to stop by throughout the residency, as well as meeting visitors, friends, and family. I exhibited a sharpie doodle, a coffin for the sharpies that “died” in sacrifice for the drawing, a levitating ikebana plant made with weeds found onsite, a thermochromic abstract sculpture that changed colors with a timed heat lamp, a creepy orb that moved and stopped depending on randomized currents, the steel form I welded from my second blog, and a “takeaway” piece I made with Tyler, which manifested as 60 miniature bottles with bamboo shavings sealed in beeswax

Giant bamboo wind chime installation design, rendered in Rhino.

The last project I worked on was a sculptural piece made with bamboo I gathered during volunteering. It slowly rotates and reveals a helix through its movement, regardless of the rigidity of the material. I coated it with epoxy paint and made a custom coupler to fit in the axis of the motor. While our collaborative project never came to fruition due to logistics, I am sure at some point our paths will cross — besides, we are fellow Pittsburghians. 

Helix, bamboo gathered on site, epoxy, steel, HMA. Click here for a video in time-lapse.

I will miss wandering in the Motor Exhibits Building and sculpture park, the amazingly talented artists I shared meals and drinks with, the personable and friendly staff relaxing behind the studio talking about poisonous frogs, the curious peacocks that roam around the magnificent sculpture park, the existential conversations I exchanged with Tyler late at night, and that sensation of walking into ISC’s air conditioned office after a day’s hard work only to be met with smiles.

Thank you International Sculpture Center and Grounds for Sculpture, for this valuable and memorable experience I will cherish and take with me to the journey ahead.

By Shohei Katayama

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