Posted by: Tony – Apr 30, 2009
Sculptor and intellect David Bruce was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about his upcoming show at j. fergeson gallery on May 9th.
RVA: What is it about building or creating in general that interests you?
David Bruce: The unspoken dialogue.
I am engaged by the inner and outer dialogue the takes place between my self, the environment and the objects I work with. Freedom to make, moments of unknown, challenges and surprises keep me going.
Whether beginning from site, idea or emotion the relationship I have with the work, the physical expression and my perspective changes. This movement, subtle shifts in focus and the experience of ideas, emotions and forms is important to me. The change keeps me on my toes. I am motivated to learn, reflect upon patterns of behavior, and develop awareness. It is a way of building a sincere relationship to my environment, expressing the subtleties of this relationship and gaining experience that will last a lifetime.
RVA: In looking through your work, there is a very delicate balance in your sculptures. You have form on top of form tied to together and/or suspended in space. What is that you feel is communicated to the viewer? Is there a certain message you want to get across?
DB: On my end the work is rich and filled with meaning. But I am not motivated by a need to communicate any literal meaning to the viewer. I make the things I do because it is how I explore my environment, self and relationships. Things like balance, tension, and poise come into the work because these things are present in me and I am expressing them through the processes and materials.
When considering the viewer, I am more interested in what they experience and leaving room for the imagination. When someone sees something in the work that I am unaware of, I become the viewer. In this way I am opened to seeing myself in a new way. It is very intriguing to me when ideas are communicated through the work; when the viewer connects the work to ideas that exist beneath the surface.
I often think of poetry, music, and lyricism, particularly improvised work that emerges from the some space among the unconscious. To me this is a revealing mode of expression through which the being, the essence of the maker, is revealed. In this mode it is not about communicating a particular idea or emotion. It is instead a flow, an expression of the inner being manifesting in the out environment.
RVA: I could be incredibly off but I had fun trying to interpret the show title. The "O" reminds me of your work, smooth and rounded and the "I" must be you. Would you give some insight on why the title is what it is?
DB: That’s a great interpretation.
There is a certain tension that I maintain between the subtle or emotional aspects of each piece and the intellectual load that is generated when contemplating the extended body of work. I prefer to leave most of this information at a distance, removing literal elements that hinder the imagination of the viewer. I am using the title to loosely bind the two, hinting towards information without making it an overpowering component of the work. The result is often a sense of ambiguity that lends itself to free exploration of emotional, physical and intellectual content.
Dealing specifically with this exhibit, I am relying on subtle connotations related to the format of the title. The “O” not only reflects the roundness of this work but also stands in as symbol and abbreviation for “object”. After creating the first generation of this work I began to shift my focus from process and the progression of a single thought to the physical objects that I was working with; stones. I have a certain affinity for stones. They prompt daydreams, engage poetic images, and share the story of a geologic lifecycle, from sediment to stone and back again. When I contemplate the robustness of these forms I begin to see them as lived, inhabited by my imagination, animated. This is where the “i” finds its place. These objects become invested by the subtle relationship I have with them. They become an integral component of my experience and in an abstract way an expression of being.
Seeing them as lived objects I am prompted to consider this generation of work as a species, evolving as I move forward. Each piece assumes a title Oi1 , Oi2 , Oi3 … This is roughly related to the way an ecologist would number the individuals of a species when measuring populations and diversity. The title links the body of work to the background information. As I perceive it each piece is unique and has a significant individuated value but exists as an integral part of a larger community, interacting as a culture.
David Bruce challenges nominalization of environment and experience through art. His work traverses a broad spectrum of processes and materials, encouraging the role of diversity in expression and configuration of place. He has created outdoor sculpture and installations in response to site as well as intimate objects that share subtle poetic experience. Much of his work evokes sensitivity to space and awareness of intimate relationships between man and environment.
David received a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning from East Carolina University in 2002 and is currently preparing for graduate studies at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. As an artist with a background in planning, his work is punctuated by research focused on the intersection of art, design and environment. Investigating the role of art in the 21 century, he often follows projects that generate opportunities for artists and expand the relationship between art and environment.
Intersections of art, design and environment provide a prolific source for innovation and expression. Products emerging from these intersections diversify and enrich spaces developed through human behavior. At a fundamental level my work embraces freedom of expression, diversity and awareness of the dynamic relationship between and environment and behavior.
With long term thoughts in mind my efforts are oriented towards challenging the normalization of environment and behavior through art. In stark contrast to the resilience and aesthetic of natural ecologies normalization reduces variation leading to the homogenization of human habitats. Uniformity can greatly limit a cultures ability to innovate and adapt to changing environmental, social and technological climates. While art functions on many levels the scope of my work and research involves an ongoing exploration of arts ability to challenge homogenization and enrich environments influenced by man.
On a large scale the work I create contributes incrementally to the diversity of a space. I am challenged to consider the lifecycle of each piece, environmental impacts and implications related to behavior. On a personal level I am engaged in a process driven method for developing awareness and cultivating my relationship with an environment. At times I am focused on subtle ideas resulting in intimate objects and at other times I respond to spaces through elaborate installations. I am moved to communicate the nuances of my personal relationship to environment through meaningful objects while enriching the spaces I am afforded a response to. Covering the broad spectrum of my interests I am making work that varies in focus and intent, subtly encompassing my value for expression, diversity and awareness, while considering the extended role and value of each composition in relation to environment and behavior.
j fergeson gallery proudly hosts Oi
David Bruce’s sculptures have the look of something that formed slowly over time, but could collapse at any moment. Stones arrange themselves in towers sandwiching shards of broken glass, or hang in clusters knotted together by sinew. You don’t approach his work so much as stumble upon it, like something found in the woods, the work of ancient travelers or flash floods.
What were once real stones are now ceramic sculptures, at times so big he has to make them in pieces. These objects are often held in place by climbing ropes, alluding to his experiences in the mountains and the place from which his inspiration is drawn. His work exist in relation to the surrounding space, leaving an impression that it occurs in nature – though it still looks, defiantly, manmade.
This is where Bruce works -- his sculpture explores the relationship of humans in the environment. How his pieces exist in space, how they interact with the viewer, is the result of a curious blip on his radar: an Urban Planning degree from East Carolina University.
His latest show, “Oi” at j fergeson gallery in Farmville, continues his interest in the way objects and environments engage the imagination.
“I am generating an atmosphere and a culture of objects intimately connected by the space between and within each form,” Bruce says. I think of this space as the domain of dreams, subtly and invisibly filled by the imagination.”
Bruce has never been one to direct his audience; creating literal work is not his intention. Instead he embraces ambiguity, encouraging a different response from each viewer who comes across his manmade wilderness.
Oi will be open to the public May 1 – 30. 311 N. Main St. Farmville, VA 23901 www.jfergesongallery.com
4411 Wheeler Spring Rd.
Appomattox Va. 24522