Installation art can be hard to capture in a photograph: it’s often about the experience of being in a particular space.
That’s true for artist Andy Yoder’s Tire Swing, an installation in our “Not a Box” exhibit that you need to see in person. It’s an installation that is completed in the viewer’s mind via an optical illusion — in other words, there’s no hole in the wall in the photo above.
For this month’s artist Q&A, we’re starting with some questions of our own, but we want to feature your questions, too! This piece has gotten a great reaction from visitors, so if you have a question for the artist, leave it in the comments at the bottom. We’ll post more questions and answers in this space.
The Art League: What was your goal with Tire Swing?
Andy Yoder: My goal was to build a familiar object in an unfamiliar way, and see what came of it.
AL: What materials does it use?
My brother came across boxes and boxes of the tiny flowers in a salvage warehouse in Portland, OR, and shipped them to me. They reminded me of Vermont meadow flowers, and that led to the idea for the piece.
Viewer question: Why is the illusion so convincing?
It’s because it’s a Mylar mirror, which gives a much brighter and true reflection than a glass mirror. Another advantage is that the whole mirror (4′ x 6′) only weighs a couple of pounds; the Mylar is stretched over a wooden frame, with rigid foam inside.
AL: The reaction it’s gotten in the gallery is pretty strong, usually along the lines of “Is it really there, and can I touch it to find out?” What sort of response were you aiming for?
I’m glad to hear it’s coming across like that; I seem to produce work that people want to touch, no matter what the materials. My aim is always to get under the viewer’s skin and engage them with the work.
AL: Your sculptures often recreate familiar objects in different materials and contexts. How do you select the right material for the subject?
Sometimes, as with this piece, material presents itself, and I use free association to think of an idea that suits it. This is one reason I like public commissions: the site leads to new ideas. Other times I might trip over an idea while sketching, or taking a shower, and then look for the best material to express it, as with the licorice shoes.
AL: What’s your creative process like — how does an idea become a finished piece?
Before I get started I usually have a strong feeling that the idea is worth pursuing. I need this, as sometimes they can be hugely time consuming. Then along the way I try to remain open to letting unexpected changes occur, so that it can get more interesting.
AL: When did you know you wanted to be a full-time artist?
Probably during my time at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where the commitment level of the other students was huge. I’d transferred from an Ivy League college where art was a small portion of the curriculum, which frustrated me.
AL: What are you working on now?
Highest Honor! It’s been a great experience so far. Now I’m looking forward to assembling the pieces, and seeing it installed.
“Not a Box” is on view through August 7, 2016.