I am sitting here today and cannot believe that the 6-week residency has come to an end. My time spent at GFS has passed by so quickly, but for me this final stretch of the program has been the most challenging and rewarding. I leave here tomorrow and am excited to head back home to Pittsburgh. I am already starting to reflect upon the residency experience, but am only scratching the surface at this point in time.
Since my last blog I have had some incredible experiences. GFS hosted an open studio event in the MEB which coincided with a happy hour in the courtyard outside. Shohei and I presented completed projects and works in progress which resulted from our time spent at GFS as Artists in Residence. In addition, many of the other MEB studio artists opened their doors to participate in the event. It was a great opportunity to engage with the public and have a dialogue with other artists. We also shared a small dinner with the other MEB artists at the conclusion of the event which was a great experience as well.
I recently completed two sculptures I had been working on during the course of the residency. Both projects were composed of steel, concrete and wood. Through these projects I was interested in exploring the interactions between materials and creating sculptures where wood became secondary in the composition. I am really enjoying the aesthetic and tension shared between these materials when combined together in a single composition.
I love going on art adventures and had the opportunity to take a short road trip to Storm King Art Center and Dia:Beacon. Both destinations were phenomenal and I had the opportunity to view some very powerful and inspiring works of contemporary sculpture. I would not have ventured off to these locations if it wasn’t for this residency opportunity and proximity to GFS. My partner and I managed to visit both locations in a day, but it was extremely exhausting both physically and mentally.
For my third and final project of the residency I worked with salvaged bamboo which was cut down inside GFS. It was very rewarding and freeing to work with a new material and it was inspiring to know that it came from within the sculpture park. Originally Shohei and I were working collaboratively on project designs but we ended up each making our own bamboo projects due to time constraints. We performed various material studies together with the bamboo, primarily focused on methods of attachment. There was a lot of material to work with and we viewed each piece as a unit that could be part of something that was much larger, both in scale and conceptually.
I was inspired by listening to the grounds staff talk about the bamboo. It can grow rapidly and take over an area. When you burn it the sections can pop and explode due to air and moisture trapped within, which of course I had to try. I was thinking about ideas of containment and restriction, which are themes close to my personal art practice. From these ideas I created a sculpture where I welded together a hollow cube form using ¼” steel round rod. I then split the bamboo sticks into strips, making them more flexible. After burning the strips and notching each end, I began to weave them within the internal structure of the cube. This project provided me with a great opportunity to grow as an artist and try something new. It was challenging but also very rewarding.
This has been an incredible experience and I’m glad to have shared it with my counterpart, Shohei Katayama. I couldn’t think of a better experience than this after just recently earning my MFA. I have learned a lot about myself during my time here and met a great new friend and peer. The staff members at both ISC and GFS have been extraordinary. I feel that I’m leaving here in a great place with regards to my art practice. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to seeing the impact this experience has on the creation of new work in the future.
By Tyler Gaston