"100% erganic - An Oregon artist's journey between Rural and Modern"

"100% erganic - An Oregon artist's journey between Rural and Modern" was presented at the September 7th, 2012 10square design event in downtown Eugene, OR. The event encourages conversation and provides an opportunity for ideas and passions to be showcased. See below for a full list of presenters and their presentations.

Attendance is estimated to have been 110 or more people, many attending the First Friday Art Walk also taking place.

Each 5-minute presentation was comprised of 10 images of the presenters choice. The "slides" are automatically advanced after 30 seconds. An additional 30 second break separated each presentation. This contributes to a fast-paced and focused format.

10square is presented by the design|spring group (formerly EEP - Eugene Emerging Professionals).

The event took place in the first floor of the Broadway Commerce Center building located at the intersection of Broadway and Willamette. The building is in the final stages of renovation. It originally housed the McMorran & Washburne (1927) retail store.

Presenters & Presentations

Kurt Albrecht
Scott Clarke - from ink to data
Dan Abrahamson - beyond architecture
Richard Shugar - new energy to a tired site
AJ Fisher - 100% erganic; An Oregon artist's journey between Rural and Modern
Carolyn Burke - envision eugene and community
Annah James - commissioned art; the process
Nir Pearlson - small footprint, big dance
David Dougherty - life between buildings
Will Dixon or Travis - a place of our own

Hello everyone. My name is AJ.
- My presentation is "100% erganic - An Oregon artist's journey from Rural to Modern"

- At one point or another every artist asks:
"What is my unique perspective?"
"What is my story to share with the world?"

- I'm Oregon Coast born & raised.
- Dad ran a metal shop...and still does.
- Nana Fisher was a Modernist with a deep respect for Nature.
- Aunt Loni was an artist... and we made art projects for the county fair.

- Growing up in the 70's and 80's, there was TV...and later Personal Computers & video games.
- Conversely I loved being in the outdoors.
I graduated from University of Oregon in '96 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts, focusing on figure studies and metal sculpture (lost wax technique of bronze casting).

- Art history reinforced my appreciation of the graceful structure and emotional nuance of the human form.

- My perfectionist side though had me spending hours sculpting tiny fingers, and tiny ears.
- I started to feel "hostage" to the process.

- University of Oregon art professor, Laura Alpert, gave me some advice:
- "Don't think too much about what to make...just make stuff."
- Down the road, she suggested... i might reflect on what i had created...

- So instead of sculpting giant fingers and giant ears, I became focused on form & gesture.
- Upon leaving college, I wasn't immediately able to make a living with art.
- After several years in administration, I found work in a metal shop fabricating security gates.

- There's lots of scrap square steel tubing around a metal shop.
- Thinking back to the 8-bit computer graphics i grew up with... I set out to make a human figure with the "blocky" material.

- I wanted to contrast the rigid & inanimate qualities of steel with the expressive & dynamic qualities of living forms.

- I coined the term "erganic" in 2004 as a synthesis of the organic and the ergonomic.
- Over time i kept coming back to the question:
"What is my unique perspective?"
- I was drawn to create forms I felt were either un-represented or under-represented in the art community.

- "Breakdancer 1" and "Breakdancer 2" were inspired because I couldn't recall seeing breakdancers depicted as sculpture before.
- Also, the unusual body positions required by breakdancing meant I might be able to depict the human form in some unusual or novel positions.

- Feedback was mostly positive...although...some said it looked more like pilates than breakdancing.
- I began participating in events like Art in the Vineyard and a local winery's garlic festival.
- At the 2005 Art in the Vineyard, I was inspired by a person in a wheelchair who stopped to admire my art.
- I couldn't recall seeing someone in a wheelchair as sculpture before.

- the "Wheelchair Racer" aims to suggest forward motion.

- I spent a lot of time designing & drawing before fabricating.
- I asked myself:
- "What is necessary?"
- "What is superfluous?"
- "What is the minimum form needed to invoke the maximum message?"
- The "trophy" sculpture shown here (on the right) springs from my rural roots... as hunting is a popular past-time where I grew up.
- A mounted animal's head is an archetypal form...I wanted to present it in a unique, new way.

- This piece is titled "John Doe" which I hope invokes a bit of humor...and perhaps inspires conversation.

- The use of wood as a plaque or shield is traditional for an animal mount.
- Wood also helps convey warmth; providing both contrast and balance to the cold qualities of the black, painted steel.
- Bigfoot/Sasquatch is uniquely Pacific NW... inspired by regional folklore, childhood camping trips, and kid's monster books...

- The Patterson film purported to catch visual proof of Bigfoot in '67.
- That infamous grainy film footage of the large, cyptic creature striding across a log-strewn riverbank is iconic.

- The wood base here hopefully suggest a natural environment for the subject.

- in retrospect I feel this piece was a turning point...as I began to realize I needed some level detail in my work...
- ...to make it more interesting...
-... to demonstrate my skills in metal fabrication.
- "Robotic, Liberty Leading the People" is an homage to both Eugene Delacroix's 1830 masterpiece...but also...
- my childhood fascination with robots.

- Both works incorporate a primary figure:

- carrying a prominently displayed flag, and...
- wielding a bayonette-equipped rifle.

- In conceiving this piece I found myself asking questions relating to liberty and its status in the computer age.

- Does technology render a society more or less vulnerable to the erosion of liberty over time?

- In detail, note that Robotic Liberty Leading the People traverses a "digital" landscape (as it's base).
- Justice is usually depicted as a female form in classical greek attire, often blindfolded, holding scales from whence evidence is weighed...
- My concept has the scales mounted on the figure's back like wings.

- Justice emerges from a Book of Law...
- She holds a globe in one hand symbolizing the rule of law across many lands.
- A sword is at the ready with which to symbolically deliver punishment.
- The lurking, erganic serpent (at the foot of Justice) symbolizes the ever-present threat of corruption

- Observers are invited to interact with Justice...
- ...small weights (resembling people) may be moved from one side of the functioning scales to another.
- In closing...I'm still interested in the relationship between the digital realm and the physical environment.

- My exploration of modern design has lead to a greater appreciation and involvement in local preservation of Modern, architectural resources.

- I hope to encourage viewers of my work to:

- question their pre-conceptions...
- encourage them to become informed...
- and motivated to become involved.

- Professor Alpert was right...I've got enough miles behind me now...I can just start to see the contours of the terrain i've navigated...
- from Urban to Traditional
- from Rural to Modern
- The picture's not totally there...but it's coming into focus...
- Thank you for coming out tonight!

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