After years of trying to prevent rust in his steel sculptures, artist Brian Kirk now welcomes the beauty and complexity of oxidation as an art in and of itself.
But how does Kirk create these haunting compositions? Imagine the marks on your bathtub or sink when you leave something metal there for so long that it starts to rust in the soapy residue and leaves an ochre shadow…Kirk’s process takes that everyday phenomenon and stretches it to a monumental scale to make his rust imprints, finding art in the unpredictability of corrosion. Kirk remarks that “this process is unpredictable—and that’s what makes it interesting to me.”
Sandwiched between two sheets of thick watercolor paper or linen, flat metal objects (like keys, metal sculptures, or wire) stay submerged, weighted under a marble slab in a bath of soapy water for several months. The result is a rust print that is almost akin to looking through a microscope—swirling particles, bubbles, and inconsistencies resembling organelles of a cell.
Kirk’s creations aren’t just industrial, they’re also influenced by the natural world. Votive Hand, inspired by a similar mica hand made by the Hopewell Indians, was originally steel, cut with a plasma cutter, before being reborn via Kirk’s oxidation method.
“Art doesn’t just happen in a vacuum,” says Kirk. “It’s a part of living.”
See Brian Kirk’s “Natural Reaction” in The Art League Gallery, now through October 7, and join us for our September Opening Reception Thursday, September 13, 6:30–8:00 pm. Also, be sure to RSVP for Drawn In: Taking a Closer Look at Brian Kirk’s Solo Exhibit on September 20, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.