Untitled, part of "This Desert Used to be Sea" series
21" x 8" x 5"
Ceramic and found wood
"My most basic and simplest inspiration is life. I know, cliche, but actually important. But to be more specific, two main themes for inspiration are, first human emotions and conditions and the second is contemporary culture, primarily the hip hop culture. I choose human emotions based mostly on my personal experiences and feelings, so my work is really self portraiture, inspired by my life. However, I also try to reflect on emotions of our current world. I feel that emotions are the most powerful force in life. They control our actions and decisions daily. The viewer does not need to know my story or my personal experience, instead they can relate to their own experiences and hopefully have an impactful and deep connection with the piece. As far as being influenced by hip hop and youth culture, this is the culture I participate in. It represents the time and place that I am living, it is life again. It is important to make this distinction, I am not commenting on hip hop, rather I am using hip hop to help create content and comment on other issues.
Saying my inspiration is life, is actually very important and not corny because its influence plays a major part in my philosophy of how and why I make it. I don't what my work to be about some high concept or specific idea which only the elite or educated can understand and relate to. In fact I want my art to be and do just the opposite. I want it to be accessible, down to earth. I want any viewer to be able to relate no matter, the age, social class, race, etc. I don't want a specific viewing audience who has to be trained or educated in a certan manner to "get it" nor do I want them to have to read a paragraph on the wall next to the work to understand it. I believe in content over concept. Content deals with various issues, it is more general, it deals with life and in a sense is more real. Where as a concept is something a person has thought up, it is an idea, it is abstract, it deals with specifics, etc. In a way I want it to be very simple, and simple does not mean boring, or shallow, or meaningless.
I also think art history is very important, and many artists are inspirational to me as well. The list is very long and broad, just quickly and off the top of my head: Egyptian art, 15th century christian art, illuminated manuscripts, 14th century spanish sculpture, Sandro Boticelli, Hans Holbein, Monet, Rodin, Van gogh, early Picasson, Egon Scheile, Marisol, Peter Voulkos, Robert Arneson, Stephen Desteabler, Lucian Freud, Cy Twombly, Phil Frost, Barry Mcgee, Clayton Bros, Thomas Campbell, Andrew Schoultz, my good friend Mike Simpson!
Also really inspirational are groups or movements that have "made something out of nothing" or just done creative stuff that was innovative and fresh. I always wish I was smart enough or had the insight to be part of one of those groups. And music is very inspirational, I would rather listen to music than go see art any day.
Color plays a role in the work, although it is a minor role. I try to use it to increase and continue the emotion that I am portraying. Symbolism, I am kind of a hypocrit when it comes to symbolism. I like it because it can create an interesting narrative, mystery, added layers to the content, and just some cool looking elements. However it goes against what I want my art to be which is accessible. Sometimes, a lot of the time, when an artist uses symbolism it is like you need a dictionary or decoder to "understand" or relate to the work, and if you don't know the symbols or don't have the right dictionary you are alienated. A perfect recent example, Matthew Barney, if you missed the show, or don't know his work, it's Christian Art. If you're not Christian good luck "understanding" the story in the picture. However the interesting thing about symbols, and the part where I get really confused, is that some people can relate to symbols and can attach their own meaning to them. In this particular piece there are no symbols. Well I guess the shelf/pedestal is kind of a house like structure which can be viewed as a symbol, but I guess I will say it acts as an object which sets the figure in an environment.
This piece, since it is small, took me about 4 hours, to build sculpt, glaze a few times, and build the shelf."
By Derek Weisberghttp://www.derekweisberg.com/