Recently we caught up with sculptor Derek Weisburg, who has just created an incredible body of work for his recent solo show at Anno Domini gallery in San Jose. Enjoy!
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Derek Weisberg, I am 27, and a CA bay area native. I reside in the “West’s best bet” if you haven’t heard of it, maybe you are familiar with “The bright and the right side of the bay”, you know, Oakland. I am a double Gemini, not sure what that means or if I even believe in it, but am told that I fit the bill, “a grumpy opinionated asshole who is friendly and smiles a lot”. I am a workaholic and find heaven in a studio blasting mid 90’s and or obscure underground rap music. I am an artist, a creator of objects, a sculptor, I primarily make figurative sculpture out of clay, but also sculpt with other materials, draw, paint and make prints, and anything else to keep me interested, curious, to push myself and create something visually in whatever form the piece dictates.
How did you first begin finding your way into the world of art?
I have been involved in art my whole life, I am a lifer. I began sculpting at a very early age, starting with the medium of mashed potatoes as soon as he could hold a fork and knife, moving onto action figure assemblage (making new toys, because I didn’t have money to buy new ones) when I could load a hot glue gun, and at age 6 I transitioned into the medium of clay, which has been my pursuit and ultimate passion ever since. I went to California College of Arts and Crafts, getting a BFA in 2005. In 2005 I also opened Boontling Gallery with my friend and amazing artist Mike Simpson http://www.percyfeils.com/. The gallery closed in 2007 but I continued and continue to curate from time to time. I have also worked with highly esteemed artists such as Stephen De Staebler, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Manuel Neri, and many others. While doing all this my main focus has been maintaining a strong and demanding studio practice, exhibiting regionally, nationally, and internationally. I have participated in over 75 shows in the last 5 years, and my life doesn’t look like its slowing down in the future. Finding my way in the art world is like finding my way in life. I have no choice but to do this and move forward with it and figure it out to the best of my abilities.
What’s this latest series of work about?
It is about so many things for me, but the main idea is about death and afterlife and what happens to the deceased in that abstract, inevitability. Also how do the living, left behind grieve and reconcile this experience? There are so many (humans have been trying to figure this shit out since the beginning) myths, beliefs and ideas about what happens after death; I have been trying to wrap my own mind around my experiences with death and find some kind of “truth” in it. All though I consider myself more of an existentialist, I began wondering does the deceased take a form after death? If so what form does the deceased take, and it obviously will not be like the actual physical form that it once was. Maybe it is closer to a ball of energy, or a wispy spirit, gas or smoke, maybe it is manifested in the heavens, in a sunset or a star nebula. OK, so how would I as a sculptor give a form to something formless. And by giving and creating new form, it also becomes about renewal, rebirth, and life. This was the main idea I wanted to address with my latest body of work Auroral Dreaming.
What’s next for Derek Weisberg?
Right now, I am working on three pieces titled “Porcelain Promises” for a group show in April, “Modern Fabulists”, in Bristol England, curated by Richard Scarry, director of Corey Helford gallery and Chippy Coates.
I am also working a new body of work with my friend Michael Mellon. Michael built the beautiful black boat for me for the piece that is in Auroral Dreaming. He and I are going to do a 2 person/collaborative show in LA in July. It will be an installation of sorts, a fleet of boats filling most of the gallery. Michael is making all the boats and I will be sculpting all the figures who are voyaging in them. Without going too much into it now, the main idea being that just as a snail grows with and into its shell, we too are born with and into our bodies, vessels or these boats. The being and the boat are one and grow and experience life alone, but surrounded by others, all moving down a never ending river of life. You know body/spirit, evolution, growth, isolation and community, or something like that at least, whatever It is going to be amazing, guaranteed! I’ll keep you posted.
Anything you’d like to add?
First, thanks Warholian for the interview and feature.
Next, shameless plug time; take a nice 45 minute little trip down to San Jose to Anno Domini Gallery if you can to see my current show Auroral Dreaming, trust, its worth the trip. If you cant make it down you can peep it here: http://www.galleryad.com/art/archives/art/backroom/derek_weisberg/
You can also check out he rest of my work on my website: http://www.derekweisberg.com/
And oh man, I could go on ranting forever, but probably none of would be significant. Maybe my man Bleubird said it the best on “Karate Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PXk8T3oRtk Maybe cliche but fuck it, its real talk! “If you die tomorrow would you be happy with what you did today”
– Questions by Michael Cuffe for Warholian.com
All photos courtesy Derek Weisberg and Anno Domini gallery.