Artist's Statement

Working on Mwindo

I have been an artist as long as I can remember. An aunt of mine had saved for years a crayon-rendered greeting card I made for her before I was in kindergarten.

As a young child, I attended the Art Institute of Chicago, as a teenager I tried correspondence art instruction and as an adult I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Product Design from Art Center College of Design. As a professional artist, I’ve been editorial cartoonist, graphic designer, filmmaker and Product Designer. I’ve designed handheld light meters and motorcycle parts, sixty-foot graphics, mainframe computer housings, and tricky little parts of teeny, tiny things.

There is no single theme that runs through all my work; I am the thread that binds it all. My professional work had been focused on problem-solving and therefore reflected the diversity of my clients, their problems, and ultimately, the variety of my resolutions. It was about materials and manufacturing and costs. Sometimes the primary issues were ergonomics and marketing concerns. Sometimes I had to resolve manufacturing or parts issues to support my “design” solution.

The work I do now is more often about the way I feel about a person, an object, a place, or an event. More often, now, design is in service to my art. I am trying to represent as much how I ‘feel’ as how I think. We exist in a universe in which we do and are a flux. Yoda is right. This energy is in our heads, and in our hands, and in our hearts, and between us. We manage that energy through our choices and through ownership and in use and appreciation. As an artist I want to generate, to define and to share that energy space, to expose, to enhance that energy space through choice and by design. I want to challenge spirit to share the physical in a way that enriches or more simply pleases.

In recent work I have begun to explore various media and means of expression that are more personal than commercial. In drawings, in paintings, and in ceramics, or glass, or metal sculpture -- particularly figurative works -- I try to express energy, movement, or emotion. I feel that often these elements are intimately connected and that they each morph through cause and effect, that sometimes it isn’t possible to separate them or to determine any absolute relativity among them. I am intrigued with the possibilities of exploring the expression of these dynamics.

I have also recognized that I have an ongoing fascination with tool making, so that sculpture of all types captures my imagination during the process as well as in the inception, completion, and presentation – I like the work; I enjoy the problem-solving itself.

In these pages I’m displaying images of my work — done and doing. I’ve also included hints about the ways I think and feel about things. Enjoy!

McAlister Merchant