Student Feature: David Gerhard

August 30, 2013

by Joshua Kelly Published in The Tiger Newspaper

Perspective: David Gerhard

Welcome back students! I am sure that you have been busy all summer visiting museums and becoming more cultured as any great patron of the arts would, and now that school is back in session you are certainly worried about where your next fix of cultural commentary and aesthetic appreciation will come from. Well don’t worry too much – I am back this semester with your weekly fix of art news to keep you up and informed on all of the cultural happenings around campus.

This week I sat down with current Masters of Fine Arts in visual arts (M.F.A.) candidate David Gerhard, who is a printmaking concentration, and talked with him a little about his upcoming MFA thesis show in the fall and the work that he has been making over the course of the past two and a half years here at Clemson.

Printmaking is perhaps one of the most varied disciplines within the art community due to the fact that there is a multitude of different ways to make a print. Be it carving an image into a block of wood or plate of metal, rolling it up with ink and then running it through a press to transfer the image onto paper, or using a large mesh screen to print ink, sand, and carborundum (man-made stardust) onto a gallery floor, the process of printmaking in some form dates back to at least the 5th century in Asia.

Because the process of printmaking involves making a matrix on a medium such as a wood block or metal plate which can be repeatedly inked and printed, it is thought of by some in the art world as a process which is very archival and permanent. Not only is the process (usually) used to create art and artifacts meant to last forever, but the means to make those objects are also preserved and can be reused, at least in most cases. However, this is not always the direction that contemporary artists and printmakers are taking with the medium.

M.F.A. student David Gerhard is a fine example of a contemporary artist that is exploring both the permanent and temporary natures of the medium. According to Gerhard, “Printmakers are kind of all over the place on that [issue]. There are printmakers that only make things that are archival, ink on paper that are framed…and there are some people that pay attention to the process of [printmaking] as a metaphor for something else, and so they are not always interested in that (archival nature of printmaking).”  His history with the process is more traditional, although in his artistic bodies of work he engages more with what he considers the “metaphors inherent in making a repetition [of form] from one source.” Perspective: David Gerhard

Gerhard was raised with a combination of eastern and western philosophies and religions, an unusual background that he certainly makes use of in his work. Along with this he explores the temporary transcendent nature of the act of play as well as the roll that family plays in one’s life in much of his art. His latest installation piece, which was up in the Acorn Gallery in Lee Hall at the start of this semester, explored this transcendent nature of play by combining the eastern religious symbol of a mandala (which represents universal balance) with objects which evoke the idea of children playing in the sand. It was a work inspired by a time he took his two year old son, a source of inspiration for much of the work he has made during his time here at Clemson, to the beach. “My work has been bouncing between almost a spiritual exploration of my life,” Gerhard said; “relating to my relationships with my family, to a mixed cultural heritage, and how to pass that onto the next generation or how that may get translated or mistranslated doing that.”

Gerhard’s M.F.A. thesis show “Being There” will be on display in the Lee Gallery from November 15-22. This show will also feature work by Alyssa Reiser Prince and Aubree Ross, both current M.F.A. candidates as well. His body of work for the show will more strongly feature his exploration of process and engagement with contemporary printmaking; much of his work deals with ideas surrounding the preservation of information in the digital age on the surface and sub-textually engages ideas of how people love each other and how we show that love by the artifacts that we keep.