Earlier this month, Center for Visual Arts-Lee Gallery at Clemson University interns visited the studio of sculpture professor and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) graduate program coordinator, Dave Detrich. All of the art department professors are not only teachers, but they are working artists. Interns were able to view his sculpture in person and they had an opportunity to ask him questions. Here is a summarized account of his answers.
What is your visual arts background?
Detrich was initially interested in architecture. His mentor and professor, Dan Lowery, at Southwestern Illinois College, served as huge inspiration and motivation towards a career in art. He received his BFA from the Kanas City Art Institute, Missouri and his MFA from Alfred University, New York. Viewing the building of the St. Louis arch inspired questions about the anomaly on the landscape within his work.
Has your industrialized location influenced your work?
St. Louis’s urbanization, industrialization, and its city parks are all cultural initiatives that have inspired Detrich’s sculpture. His father’s job working on a motor assembly line also influenced the direction of his work.
What is the context that your work presents itself?
Detrich focuses heavily on preparatory research and values originality of content he is addressing. Often, he extracts elements discourse subjects to create irony.
Is there a reason you have been using wall sculpture versus sculpture in the round in your current work?
The wall is a place he consistently goes to as a building site. His current work considers consumerism in the automotive and fashion industries. He is using a coring tool to create circular cuts in magazines of these subjects and arrange these chance cuts into connected images.
Is there a reoccurring starting point that you return to for inspiration?
Through collecting, Detrich tries to find the ironic connections between things unrelated. Many of his ideas are the result of months of processing through ideas, making the forecast of his work unpredictable.
You wrote that your sculpture is most successful when it poses a question rather than make a statement. If it does this, what action do you want your viewers to take?
He believes his work is successful when it invites his viewers to ponder rather than answer a question for them. He does not seek an editorial approach, but rather one that initiates a dialogue.
Detrich’s current works are investigating the poetry of paint chip names, the intersections between automobiles and fashion, and the elements of Piet Mondrian’s minimalism.
The visit was enlightening to the students. They were able to understand Detrich’s artistic journey, his particular mode of working, and his translation of ideas through his sculpture and its impact on viewers.