Week 2: Artist Interview – Maccabee Shelley

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How long does it usually take to make a piece?

I asked Mr. Shelley how long it usually took to create one of his pieces. He responded by saying it took approximately over 100 hours and about 1000 pounds of material. He followed this response up by saying that he generally does not keep track of the exact time it takes to create a piece. However he did say that pieces of different sizes take longer to make given that the very large one weigh hundreds of pounds and to move them would require him to use a pulley system to lift and transport them.

Has glass ever shattered as you were working?

I asked the artist if glass ever shattered as he was working with it in the kiln. To this he responded that glass has broken in the kiln but, to my surprise, not on accident but rather intentionally. He then pointed to a piece of his that was a glass block smashed into several smaller pieces. He followed this up by saying that he had tried in the past to break this piece by throwing it off the second story of a building and by throwing it at solid pieces of metal, but to no avail. In order to break it, he would heat it in the kiln.

Do you name your pieces?

I then asked Mr. Shelley if he names his art pieces. He responded saying that he usually does not name his pieces being that it somewhat sets someones thoughts to go in a certain direction for a certain piece. Rather he said he would prefer a piece to be nameless so the person viewing the art can come up with his or her own definition or meaning of the work. He then explained that when he works, he thinks whether the piece would “add or subtract” to one’s perception of the piece and that naming it would subtract from what he wants the viewer to experience.

Conclusion

Of all the galleries I visited on Thursday, I found No Redemption Value to be the most fascinating. This was due to the large amounts of materials and time required to make the piece, in addition to its unorthodox method of production. I also enjoyed Mr. Shelley’s artistic philosophy in letting the viewer of the art come up with his or her own conclusions about it. I agree with this mentality, that art is however you wish to see it as and has no concrete definition.

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