Artist Profile: JR Larson

Adder Bat, 2011-12, Burlap, Marble, Cotton Yarn, Grass Rope, Copper, Wood, Iron, Bamboo. 73″ x 60″ x 56″

JR Larson

Studio location: The Active Space 566 Johnson Ave, studio #21 on the third floor.

Tell me a little about yourself – where did you grow up, where did you go to school, when did you move to Bushwick, etc.

I’ve only been in Bushwick for a year, though I’ve been an active artist in NYC, LA and Montreal for over a decade

I grew up in the swamplands of southern Mississippi and wandered about the States, eventually found myself apprenticing under the salty ceramic badass Peter Volkous. I briefly attended Rutgers, SMFA Boston, and Mass Arts and am grateful for what I learned at those institutions.  Ultimately, everyone has his or her own way of learning and I found that I thrive in the tradition of apprenticeship.  People are the world’s treasures and their forms of expression are our legacy—their artifacts become our record of time.

Tell me a little about your artistic process.

A lot of time goes into researching my material and I get great joy out of finding and retrieving just the right material for each piece. For example, I have been working with burlap and hand-sewing on paper, and wanted to add a contrasting natural element, then one day I came across caning and realized this was the perfect material to add to my repertoire. It is natural, but woven; familiar, but not an art material, etc. So that was a local find, but have had pine tar shipped from a guy named Sven in Sweden, and regularly travel 10 hours to gather felled trees floating in rivers. I like my materials to have a history.

I’m mixing materials that would be considered traditional, with others that would be considered more common and instead of hiding that fact I choose to let the materials be themselves, I believe in relinquishing that control over the materials. The sculptural forms have a surreal sensibility, while the details of recognizable materials pulls your eye back to “what it is”, so there’s a suspension between knowing and not knowing.

Do you feel that your works has been influenced by the neighborhood?

My work is definitely influenced by the neighborhood.  Not to tiptoe through this; there is a push-pull that happens when a neighborhood goes through a drastic change.  And with all large shifts there is displacement of people, culture, and a past way of life, for better or worse to make room for the new way.  That’s just what change is.  It is in this change that so much miscommunication comes, on all sides of the event.  Many of these topics deal directly to the focus of my work.  I am currently working on sculptures, drawings and videos that present a undefined pre and post apocalyptical culture through a perceived rediscovery of the future and its interrelated associations of language and worship via miss identified communications of self-made icons and artifacts.

Like many artists I have a day job, mine is in the film industry as a DP and Union AC.  The reason I mention it is because it allows me to spend a great amount of time in my studio for long stretches, so I typically make 6-12 pieces at a time that all relate, and that could be a series. When I go out of town for 3 weeks or so, and come back, I have fresh eyes and can properly evaluate what’s successful or not and why. This distance is vital to keeping my work honest and on track.

Who’s your favorite Bushwick artist?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I admire what Jamison Brosseau has been doing, both as a painter and as a host of his space “Wildlife” which he lends to Jon Lutz and others for one-night shows. It’s important to my artistic development to have a community of artists. There is a scene being created by, and for, artists of all types and its one that is not as commercially driven. Of course, there is a lot of momentum being created by the Regina Rex collective and Deborah Brown at Storefront, who are working artists with influential spaces that support the scene. At the end of the day, it feels healthy to be part of a mutually perpetuating, symbiotic situation.

What’s your favorite thing about Bushwick?

The fact that people in Bushwick are committed to a vision is important to me. Regardless of what people think, the rent is not cheap, but it’s akin to participating in a creative think-tank.  I commute to my studio in Bushwick for that reason.

Why do you support the Bushwick arts community?

I’m glad it exists, and I’m glad that its local, people have gotten on the band wagon with food being local and responsible, I believe that art is brain and soul food, so cultivating and supporting all aspects of local arts should be a priority as well.   It’s exciting to witness emerging spaces, and the choices they make as they gain recognition. There are a lot of emerging artists and spaces that you can easily see gaining traction (i.e. Letha Wilson in one of the latest editions of the New Yorker, congrats!), and even if it doesn’t seem that serious now, when you think about a lot of big galleries or artists, they all had their start somewhere. Bushwick is the East Village, or Soho, or Chelsea or LES of our generation.

How are you participating in this year’s Bushwick Open Studios?

My studio will be open for the duration located at: The Active Space 566 Johnson Ave, studio #21 on the third floor.

In addition I plan on sneaking out to see as much as I can, with so many artists and great events  with their doors open I would be a fool not to check it out and support the community.  I look forward to meeting new people and seeing new work.

Stringfellow, 2012, Burlap, Grass Wicker, Cotton Yarn, Brick, Mortar, Tar, Copper, Wood, Iron, 34″ x 27″ x 20″

Undefined #3, 2012, hand dyed Organza, Burlap, Copper, Wood, 20″ x 30″ x 7″

You can see more of JR’s work by clicking here.

This entry was posted in Artist Profile and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.