Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Brief Visit with Sculptor David Asher Everett

David Asher Everett is one of three artists currently exhibiting at the Duluth Art Institute. The title of his show is Rust and Flow and can bee seen in the John Steffl Gallery from now till November 6. You can also hear him talk about his work tomorrow evening at 5:30 p.m. as part of an artist talk featuring he and the two other currently exhibiting artists, Brent Kustermann and Adam McCauley.

I met David Everett through our mutual involvement with Duluth Dylan Fest. Everett produced the manhole covers that were placed on Bob Dylan Way on Dylan's 70th birthday five years ago. It's interesting that Dylan himself is recycling scrap to produce metal sculpture art these days.

Here are some insights about David Everett and his work.

EN: How did you come to take an interest in sculpture in general and casting in various metals specifically?

David A. Everett: I became a sculptor by accident, I actually focused on photography and drawing as an undergrad. Drawing and photography remain foundations for my sculptural work. I actually have a large photography piece in progress, and look forward exhibiting it somewhere in the near future.

EN: Sculpture involves a lot more process than drawing. Can you describe how you made the Trash Fish pieces currently on display?

DAE: My attraction to metal casting is probably due to my love of process. I was a science nerd in high school, especially loving labs. Photography (black and white) came naturally, as it is actually produced in a lab and you go through all of these steps and make a lot of decisions along the way to get a finished product, after all the camera/environmental/light work. This being said, the digital process kind of ruined it for me...... too easy and immediate. Of course, less toxic chemicals is a good thing. Metal casting is much the same as old fashioned photography, you start with an idea, make a prototype, figure out how to mold it, how to vent it, how to get the metal to fill it, acquire and manipulate materials. Its a great exercise in physics. My favorite part of the process is the physical nature of casting, swinging a hammer, breaking up old radiators, fuel coke, etc... and the camaraderie of getting together for a week or two with like minded folks, helping each other to carry out our visions.

EN: Most if not all of your work is created from recycled materials. Where do you find these raw materials?

DAE: The Trash Fish are an ongoing project of mine. It begins with collecting actual garbage from Lake Superior and its tributaries. Sadly, I pick up a lot more trash than I actually use. I then manipulate (cut, bend) and arrange the trash on boards to forms resembling aquatic creatures. I fasten the creatures to the board with staples and screws. After that, I build a box around them with a release agent such as talc, powdered graphite or silicon. Into the box I pour fine sand with a salt based resin and catalyst, ramming it to get all the fine details. When the sand/resin mixture is cured, I flip the box, pull out the trash, and if its really thick, I'll use clay to desired thickness and ram the other side in the same fashion. This makes a sand mold between 100 and 500 pounds in which to pour the iron. If I'm able to do just one side, I can just pour the iron directly in, two sided molds require sprews and vents drilled and arranged in such a manner as to let the ~2500 degree iron to travel through and fill completely. I also sort the trash appropriately to recycle as much as possible. We get our iron from old radiators out of buildings, mainly. If any plumbers out there have any to get rid of.... we can always use 'em. We manually break them up with sledge hammers to chunks about the size of tortilla chips.

EN: What inspired you to study at the U of Birmingham and what did you take away from that experience?

DAE: I attended university in England initially through the study abroad programme at UMD, for a year and returned to Birmingham (and spent a lot of time on the Cornish coast, as well) at intervals less than three months at a time (due to visa restrictions) and finances allowed after completing my BFA. Having grown up in Duluth, I didn't appreciate it until living away for some time. Birmingham was my escape at age 19, at the time I thought I'd be a failure in life if I ended up in Duluth as an adult. Through my time in the UK, cultural experiences and travels more afar, I came to appreciate Duluth. That being said, I still get "itchy feet" and need time away a couple times a year.

EN: How much of your work is at the Franconia Sculpture Park? How did this art park get birthed and how did you get involved?

DAE: Franconia was birthed from the hard work and vision of some great artists just over twenty years ago, namely John Hock, who still runs the show. I became involved there when I was one of the iron artists in 2007. I don't currently have any work on display at Franconia. I had a piece there for a couple years (2007-2009) in the rotating iron artist area. I have plans for a large piece at Franconia, and hope to get my proposal accepted. Stay tuned on that. I usually do an iron pour or two every year at Franconia, but usually I just arrive with a small mold and my share of broken iron to help with the actual pour, which takes four to ten hours. I spend most of my time at a pour on the ladle or the top of the furnace charging fuel and iron, and keeping an eye on and communicating with the person in charge of the furnace on what she unable to see.

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The Duluth Art Institute is a gift to this community. Take advantage of your next trip to the library by walking across the street to see what's on display on the fourth floor of the Depot.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Get into it. 

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