J e f f B o s h a r t
I am a sculptor and an educator who teaches sculpture at Eastern Illinois University. My job involves introducing students to the history and contemporary issues in sculpture as well as demonstrating how and why artists create or invent. This, in turn, gets reflected in my own philosophies and artwork.
I also deal with various materials, tools and how to use them appropriately and safely. These classroom projects build a very basic working knowledge of woodworking, metalwork/welding and casting skills. Most recently I have been demonstrating to students that a good basic utilization of the elements of design and principles of organization, along with solid craftsmanship, can make a simple idea work effectively; that honesty and integrity in the process and materials can make simple objects more aesthetically interesting and marketable in a contemporary gallery setting.
Professionally, I enjoy doing large-scale, site specific, temporary, sculpture installations. These typically involve a lot of planning, literally tons of materials and access to acres of land. I don’t get the opportunity to do sculptures like this every day so I have had to re-examine my approach to the profession. Most recently I have engaged my students by having them develop models (or maquettes) that physically express the idea of a large sculptures on a smaller scale and then select one for realization outside the sculpture studio for campus consumption.
Bits and pieces have always fascinated me. I delight in finding a small part of something and letting my imagination play, interjecting formal academic aspects of three dimensional design and composition that result in the object being elevated from the ordinary. I often think of myself as a sort of shaman who can extend the useful life of objects, taking them from the utilitarian, work-a-day world and re-establishing them as objects worthy of reverence, at some level. If not a shaman, then perhaps an intermediary with some limited insight.
As I have gotten older, it has become less important that my artwork always fit into a specific niche. As a young artisan I always thought my sculptures had to have a consistent thread running through them, either in the form, content, or intent. Nowadays I tend to go where the mood and materials take me. I am still very much a Constructivist at heart but I work at blending art and craft, distorting the lines of traditional classification. The term “Industrialism” might best describe my current aesthetic exploration but I think the term eclectic might be more honest. The next step in my maturation, I suppose, will be eccentricity and dementia.
I think an artist’s body of work should be like what I’ve described above. Serious. Playful. Introspective. Contemplative. Exaggerated. It should represent a thoughtful blending of the elements of design and principles of organization. The content, or artist’s intent, should be communicated clearly but yet not so simply as to take all of the fun out of the individual’s personal interpretation. Nor should it be so complicated that the viewer never gets the message. Rather than worry about whether I am successful or not, I figure my obligation is to just keep making the artwork. I’ll let some future critic figure out whether I was any good or not. Right now I’m just too busy working on my next project….