Monday, July 28, 2008

Interview with Kirk Stoller

I was fortunate to meet Kirk Stoller through another artist, Bill Samios, at a Lincart opening earlier this year. That was the first I'd hear of Kirk's sculptures and that I'd missed his recent exhibit at Ping Pong Gallery. Going with my respect for the curators at Ping Pong Gallery and the little but So, here's to catching up.

The exhibit you had at Ping Pong Gallery reminds me of portals through walls. As if I could stick my hand through and have my body follow to a magical world. How do you see those completed works?

I installed my Ping Pong show, as if the 7 works were relating to each other as one whole larger sculptural form. Each individual piece did have a transitory nature…either moving the eye of the viewer from the floor to the wall (and sometimes to the ceiling)…or from the sculptural plane to the illusionary realm of painting. I’m glad you got the feeling of being able to traverse through the wall. This was the ultimate idea in which I wanted the viewer to experience.
What was it like growing up in a family with six kids? I don't know many people who have families larger than three kids. I imagine you always had someone to hang out with.

There was enough age difference between my 2 older brothers and I, that it really was only my 2 sisters, my younger brother, and I doing most things together. This was especially the case as we four were all home schooled for 3 years. It wasn’t great for learning social skills, but it did allow my mother, the teacher, to gear my lessons towards my interests. I remember there being a lot of history.

While studying French did you know you were you also creating artwork? When did you begin to make large-scale sculptures?

I was always doing art from an early age…so in college while studying to get a degree in French language, I also took a lot of art classes. The French degree along with my participation in an exchange program to Lyon, France. My junior year took me touring Europe, visiting many many museums and galleries. I am sure the subsequent stone and steel sculpture I created my senior year were greatly influenced by what I saw. I didn’t really start creating very large sculpture pieces until going to Berkeley.

I like your new series of owner-assembled pieces for sale on Red Cake. How is it working on a smaller scale? These are self supporting while most installation pieces of yours are supported by a wall. Do you want to comment on that difference?

My Red Cake pieces are more about material than anything else. The owner-assembled idea sprung from my brain’s inability to understand the word / picture instructions that accompany store bought unassembled furniture…combined with the joy I felt when I completed my first paint-by-numbers picture(a wood scene with a deer).

I like working small as it gives me the opportunity to experiment without always struggling to lift and move my life size sculpture stacks. Of course, since they are so small, having them include the wall as something on which to lean is problematic. A couple of them have done so, but not too many people will display such small work on the floor for fear of stepping on them…or having their cat eat them. Because the wall is not there in the small work, they touch less upon my interest in transitory spaces and instead rest more in familiar formal issues of traditional sculpture.

You are traveling in Seattle this week to see the newer sculpture park. How is it? What parts of other artwork do you first recognize?

I was more excited by the park itself than in individual pieces it contained.
Don’t get me wrong…the Serra, Openheimer, Oldenberg, and di Suvero were nice, but it was the way the park design allowed one to zig-zag over a highway and a railroad track, without really noticing you were doing so, that really piqued my interest. The one sculpture, I thought came closest to what my own work strives for was “Love & Loss” by Roy McMakin. He spelled out the title using various types of materials including neon, a tree, and stone tables. I liked how the relationship of the disparate pieces along with the functionality of the pieces brought the sculpture back into the everyday life of the viewer…from which the idea, no doubt, originated.

When I view work done by others, I'm first drawn to the combination or use of material. If the artist combines soft sculptural forms with hard…or graphite with say…plastic, I’m intrigued. Of course attention to formal issues need to accompany this exploration of material. Another thing I look for is how the artist can succinctly say what he or she wants without over stating the issue(s).

You can check out Kirk's site here.

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