“Just People Making Things” in Our Newest Sculpture Class

Licorice Shoes; licorice, silicone, and Styrofoam; by Andy Yoder. 2.5' × 2.5' × 7' each.

Licorice Shoes; licorice, silicone, and Styrofoam; by Andy Yoder. 2.5′ × 2.5′ × 7′ each.

With the right approach, anything can be an art material.

Among the new classes coming to The Art League this Fall, there’s one that puts that idea to the test with some wide-open explorations in sculpture. New instructor Andy Yoder (andyyoder.com) is teaching Sculpture and the Concept of Why in the Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer this school year. Here’s what students have in store:

Who should take this class?
Andy Yoder: This class is wide open! I’m hoping to enlist everyone from beginners or non-artists to professionals with lots of experience.

I’ve only ever worked in traditional (realistic, non-conceptual) art. Is this class for me? Will I be in over my head?
This class is for everybody, and nobody will be in over their head. “Conceptual” has a chilly, elitist sound to it, but for me it just means that there’s ideas behind the work. My assignments are designed to be simple and open-ended, allowing for fun, unexpected results. The challenge will be letting go of pre-conceived ideas and habits, so a lack of experience may be an asset!

Early One Morning and detail, 300,000 matchsticks, by Andy Yoder. 43" diameter.

Early One Morning and detail, 300,000 matchsticks, by Andy Yoder. 43″ diameter.

What does the title of the class mean?
I didn’t choose it, but I look at it as a reminder of the balancing act it takes to make art: getting a piece of work started, then allowing it to take its own course, and hopefully coming up with something new. Asking “why?” keeps us from acting on autopilot, and it’s as useful in the business world as the studio. Then there are times when it can get in the way of working instinctively, in a cloud of creativity, where all the best results are lurking.

What will a typical Sunday be like in this class?
I want the studio to be a place where people work in a focused way, while keeping it relaxed enough for participants to move around and bounce ideas or questions off each other. There’s no hierarchy, just people making things. I might take time to introduce a project, show images of other artists’ work to stir the pot, or have a group discussion, but mainly it will be about trying new approaches and seeing what comes out of it.

Home, School, and Office by Andy Yoder

Home, School, and Office by Andy Yoder

What kinds of materials will students use?
As wide a variety as possible. For many of the projects there are no limits to the choice of materials, including food. You never know what might trigger a memory or idea, leading you in a new direction. Other times we may restrict the materials to point out how even the simplest means can lead to dramatically different results, while still managing to reflect the personalites of the people who made them.

How would you describe your own art and practice?
Basically I try to avoid following routines, much as I described above. I love letting random materials lead to new ideas, or coming up with an idea and figuring out how to express it. With commissions, I use the particulars of the site or sponsor in the same way. Recent projects have involved wooden matches, artificial flowers and riveted copper. I’ve also been putting a lot of time into a series of drawings and paintings. As you can tell, I like variety, and the assignments for this course will reflect that.


Tireswing; artificial flowers, rope, and mirror; by Andy Yoder.

Tire Swing; artificial flowers, rope, and mirror; by Andy Yoder.

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