Artist Interview | Andrew Orloski

Andrew Orloski (b. 1986) is a multidisciplinary artist who primarily works in the language of sculpture. Andrew lives and works in Fresno, California but was raised outside of Philadelphia and has spent the past decade working for various colleges and universities around the country; namely Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Grinnell College in Iowa and most recently, California State University, Fresno. The artist is currently an MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and holds a BFA from Millersville University, Pennsylvania and a Post Baccalaureate in Sculpture and Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Lineage, Cast Bronze, aluminum, kiln formed glass, 102x29x56cm, 2019
Uprooted / Yosemite Cairn, cast bronze, aluminum, concrete, 188x28x23cm, 2019
Monolith for Stranger Times #3 / 供石, cast bronze, 48x28x23cm, 2019

My current work explores notions of monumentalism and banality with an inquisitive look at mundane, often overlooked objects we surround ourselves with daily. My process utilizes a variety of traditional and contemporary mold making techniques, which aid in the transformation of objects through materiality. I am especially engaged in creating work that crafts narratives between the ephemeral and permanent. Industrial materials such as metals, glass, concrete and gypsum are essential to my process because of their deep roots in history and economy and can be cast, fabricated, welded and modified to allow weight and balance to work as subject matter.

Monolith for Stranger Times #1 / 供石, cast bronze, concrete, 46x41x20cm, 2019
Untitled, cast Concrete, brick, river stone, 47x90x34cm, 2020
Untitled (Shipping Blankets), cast concrete, 142x28x38cm, 2020

Andrew Orloski: When I was an undergraduate student one of my professors told me, “You only make your first real piece of artwork 10 years after you graduate from your undergrad.” At the time, I dismissed it as one of those highbrow, elitist art school tropes that people in higher education loved to pass off to their students thinking they are somehow so wise and enlightened in their age (or perhaps, just jaded). However, I am literally 10 years out of my undergraduate degree right now and I feel like perhaps this saying really did have some meaning (to me at least) after all, because I am very confident the work I am producing now is among some of my best, given the years of built up contemplations and perfecting of my skillsets.

For the last decade I have been working in art departments at public and private colleges across the United States. Because of this, my own studio practice sort of fell short for many years as I prioritized passing my knowledge off to students and did not bother to put much into my own efforts. Artists can really be influenced and driven by the peers they surround themselves with. Fortunately for me, the past four years I have been lucky enough to know and work alongside my friend and colleague, Ed Gillum, a fantastic lifelong artist who truly helped nurture my creative drive once again. Ever since moving to California and working alongside Ed, I feel the urge to make more challenging work and being in his company has really helped my practice considerably. The past few years I have been very busy in the studio, so I decided that given my pace during these times, maybe it would be best to finally pursue my masters degree. I decided to apply to the School of the Art Institute, Chicago and was accepted to their program. Getting my MFA will pose to be another important personal milestone.

2020 has certainly been turbulent, but one positive of this year is that I started advanced studies at a top institution in the nation for my terminal degree. In the short time I have been at SAIC I have been lucky enough to work with some incredible artists, poets, musicians, performers, etc. all of whom continue to help me hone in on the inner workings of my practice. So, I would say the most critical milestones in my art career are happening right now, in this very moment, as my current studio practice has been the most intensive and personally rewarding in over a decade. As far as process goes, my work has found itself situated back into the foundry, where metal casting has shown itself to be crucial to my practice. My first job after I graduated with a BFA in Sculpture, was working for a commercial fine art foundry, casting metals and fabricating pieces for professional artists. Beaten down by the arduous and tiring task of always making other peoples work for them, I did not make any of my own; I was simply so burned out from having to constantly process other peoples pieces. Now, with over a decade of experience in metal casting under my belt, my technical prowess has been fine tuned and I am utilizing my skills in our foundry in California to further my practice.

Independent & Image Art Space: In front of the current pandemic, how do you think art can do for our world, community or family?

Andrew Orloski: This year we have seen a lot of art world normalcies upended and turned on their head by the pandemic. Artist talks are now given via zoom, galleries are making 3d renderings of spaces to exhibit work digitally, catalogues are all in pdf format. Some see this as a rightful challenge, however I think that living in these times as a visual artist is down right exciting. In the age of social media, your work can be shared, distributed and discovered by the powerful use of a hashtag. Networking can be done through digital platforms and because of technology, sharing your work has never been easier. As I write this, I am ecstatic thinking about someone from Chongqing or beyond reading my words, as I write them at my desk in California. Distribution is an amazing force in these peculiar times. I feel that in our current global circumstances, this pandemic has forced people to look inward at what sort of direct challenges exist in the world around them; and how they can present themselves as either hurdles or possibilities, both personally and communally. This challenge in and of itself is a way to be creative. Because of technology, the world is growing to be a smaller place; we communicate, experience and express the world under different terms, who’s rules change on the daily. All across the globe, isolation has been a major theme during this pandemic and while I know art making may not be on the forefront of many people’s agenda, creativity certainly is. Creativity will help us write our history, creativity in the unknown, creativity in solitude and community, creativity in survival. I think we will see a lot of interesting shifts come from the aftermath of all of this, as old norms shift and attempt to find footing in the forefront of our contemporary society. One that we built out of this time, one of and for the future.

Independent & Image Art Space: In the new year of 2021, do you have any plan for your art creation?

Andrew Orloski: I am determined to finish dozens of new pieces in 2021 and am on track to do so. Casting metals, gypsums, concrete, glass, etc. is a lengthy process and these processes are vital to my practice. Just in the last few weeks of 2020, I was putting the final touches on nine new pieces that I have been working on since August. These pieces take a long time from start to finish given all of the steps required to complete them, including documentation. Throughout the process of creating these new works, I was constantly being inspired and thinking harder about new directions for my work, which is continuing on through this new year. I am already in the midst of starting new molds for another body of work, while also finalizing and documenting my last pieces that I’ve come to complete. On top of this, there are about six other works that are in the final stages of completion that I am in the middle of grinding, buffing and polishing, eventually documenting in the next month or so. It’s a very busy time in my studio. I would urge anyone interested in my work to follow along on my Instagram page (instagram.com/orloskistudio__) and also my website (www.andreworloski.com) as I will be constantly posting new things on these platforms. I just recently added five new pieces to my website last week, with four more to be updated very soon. Many people will look at 2021 as a fresh start, myself included.

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