©2017-2018 by Reciprocal art magazine

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    Michael Webster

    Stoppage #5, 2018, printed PLA designed in Fusion 360, spray paint, vials, molding, 5 x 40 x 2 inches

    Talk about your journey as an artist. How did you get started?

     

    I have a photo of the precise moment it started.  When I was in fourth grade, I participated in a school outreach exhibition at my local art museum.  My parents snapped a photo of me, standing in front of my painting with a sly smile, wearing a soccer jersey.  Because I was so excited that I was in a “real” art show at a museum, I thought to myself, why not keep painting?  During my college years I moved from painting to other things. My first non-painting began with surveying an entire neighborhood to find out the monetary value of color when painting a house.  Apparently two identical houses, one painted white and one painted pink, may differ 25k in value just because of the exterior color. This research-based work became my focus in undergrad and grad school.

    Your work stems from various systems that we see in daily life. What about these systems intrigues you, and have they always been a source of inspiration in terms of your artistic practice?

     

    Systems are made to organize the world. I think of them as the manifestation of types of knowledge into conventions or rules.  Systems are all encompassing, just like utopia; a singular vision for organization.  But like any utopia, there are things happening outside the system that reveal its limitations.  I enjoy working on that edge and engaging the limitations of a system: occupying limbo. 

    Somewhere, 2018, alder wood, found wood, concrete, 84 x 50 x 8 inches

    There’s almost a sense of humor or irony that comes about when something that is made to serve a particular purpose can no longer do so. In your artist statement you say that you “…try to introduce a quiet absurdity into this series of sculptural work.” Would you consider your work playful? What do you hope the viewer takes away from these pieces?

     

    I don’t like to invent forms but instead begin with existing things.  By the time I come around to working with a particular form or material I want it to be within the context of responding to the decisions of others, so the artwork must exist as part of a formal-material dialogue.  Often this dialogue with the everyday leads to humor as a byproduct of the process, but I avoid starting with humor.  Adjacent to humor is the absurd, which I purposefully engage in some sculptures to challenge the rationality of systems.  Absurdity can generate a wide range of affect. Is a bent level humorous due to a shift in material expectations - is it grotesque as an allusion to impotence?

    How do you see your work evolving in the future?

     

    Currently I am wandering into some new territory.  Historic preservation practices intrigue me, and I am starting to look at it’s conventions and methods. Outside of  Charleston, SC, there exists an 18th century plantation house called Drayton Hall. The preservationists in charge of maintaining the property have decided to embrace a more complex understanding of material history, deciding not to restore the house.  So I am thinking about that.  At the same time, this summer I began collecting old bricks throughout Spartanburg, South Carolina, which lead to experiments with laying bricks and casting bricks. These two interests are on a collision course that has yet to find resolution.  Beyond that, I am letting the work take me where it wants to go.

    Who are some of your influences?

     

    I’m a big fan of social scientists and builders.  I don’t fully understand either, but I want to be them when I grow up.

    Dropped2017, acoustic ceiling tiles, pine, installation in locker room, 96 x 96 x 108 inches

    Dropped (back view of installation)2017, acoustic ceiling tiles, pine, installation in locker room, 96 x 96 x 108 inches