Artist Q&A with Edward Giordano
Ed Giordano is a sculptor living and working in New York. He recently completed an artist residency at The Blue Mountain Center. In 2013, he was awarded a residency in New Orleans from The Joan Mitchell Center. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Delfina Studio Trust in London and The Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation in New York City. Since graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design and Pratt Institute in 1985, he has had two fellowships in theoretical and critical studies at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and been in numerous group exhibitions in USA and Canada. As a sculptor, he works with common materials from Home Depot such as wood, plaster, and nails.
Who is your favorite artist of all time?
Michelangelo. I was living in Rome would visit my relatives in Genoa. My great aunt insisted that I understand what the Italians had done with Sculpture. So, it started with a visit to the cemetery to put flowers on my family’s graves. The cemetery was replete with funereal sculpture and monuments. I was not impressed. Maybe, disrespectful until I went to the Vatican and saw the tombs designed by architects and sculptors including the Pieta by Michelangelo.I visited Florence and the unfinished slaves at the Academy di Belle Arti. Later, the unfinished work at in Milan, the Rondannini Pieta. It was the unfinished work that interest me the most. Unfinished but complete and psychological. Like modernism, about procedure and materials. Every mark that Michaelangelo made with his chisel left a view of his process in making art.
How did you become a professional artist?
I like thinking with my hands, as well as my mind. I enjoy the physical activity with painting, drawing and sculpture. And hopefully contributing to society with work that is edifying and communicating to an audience that will relate to the imagery. And improve themselves through some kind of understanding from the imagery I present to them.
What are the influences and inspirations in your work?
My current work is smaller since I didn’t have the space to work large. The pandemic forced me to change scale and technique. In the larger pieces, I applied plaster directly with a spatula on an armature. With the smaller pieces, I am modeling in clay then making moulds for casting. Currently, there has been a movement to remove heroic sculpture from pedestals and columns of individuals who were part of the slave trade in America. As a result, there are columns in parks and cities with no one on top. It is awkward to view. Since America has no history of Kings or Queens, there are less commemorative sculptures here than in Europe. So, I decided to make columns or tall bases with ordinary figures sitting or standing on top. The ordinary being raised up high in reverence to themselves.
How is your work different than everything else out there?
It is about the human condition it’s urgent, personal and esthetic without being decorative or overwhelmed by current big issues.
When is a piece finished for you?
I know when I am done with a piece of work when it feels complete. Incompleteness is different from unfinished. Complete is the content of your work. The state or condition of having all the necessary or appropriate parts composed and resolved. Order brings comfort and can include unfinished parts such as a missing finger or another item normally seen. The composition of a piece is the way the parts fit together successfully. Something easy and comfortable for the eye. No clutter. Organization. The sensory and emotion we should feel when we are done is resolve. The work is resolved and finished. When I am no longer enthralled.
What’s different about your current body of work?
What is different about your current body of work from previous? I have currently been working with clay on a smaller, personal scale, making waste molds that I cast with plaster and remove from the mold with a chisel and hammer. Some of these pieces I leave just as they are from the mold giving a raw appearance while others I clean, smooth it out and paint. In the past I was making much larger pieces, almost human scale that the viewer can physically relate to.
Tell us about a few of your career highlights or moments that have greatly affected your career?
I was awarded a Joan Mitchell Grant and found out that George Segal had nominated me for the prize. When I spoke with him, he told me that he had been requested to nominate 3 artists, but only chose me. Knowing this convinced me that I was doing work that had meaning and took the edge off the rejections I was getting from the gallery world. I was having difficulty with getting the work seen by a larger audience and worried about my future. It provided a respite from that stress. I felt accepted.Receiving awards and residencies helped with the feeling of achievement. Especially the Delfina Trust in London. I spent 3 months in London. While in London, I visited the Barbizon Museum. There was an exhibition of the Sculptor Eric Gill. I was familiar with my design work of a typeface called Gill. However, I never knew that the designer was also a Sculptor. It made sense to me because of stone cutting and the use of letter forms in Architecture specially during the 19th century. I found this exciting, because of my involvement in both disciplines.
What’s coming up for you?
Participating in A Daze of Roses curated by Robert Curcio at Mizuma&Kips until August 21. Also, searching out the provenance of an earlier work that I’m not sure who currently owns it and where it could be.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out today?
My advice is to become emotionally and psychologically independent and focus on what you can do. Develop your best skills and become confident with them. I suggest that it is important not to copy someone else, but perhaps to stand on the shoulders of an earlier artist that you respect. Learn from them and how they made discoveries, insights and progress with their work. Ask questions and be respectful. Become confident about your decisions with your procedure, especially when it involves starting over on a piece and making difficult choices about changing the earlier effort. The courage to destroy what you have done and redo it.
Who are some of your favorite under appreciated artists that you don’t think get enough attention?
Sam Altenkraus, Susanna Coffey, and poet Robert C. Ford.
To learn more about Edward and his work, please visit www.EMGiordano.com.