AJ and I have known each other for a long time - going on eight years or so - and I have a hard time writing introductions for old friends. I never know if I should write something glowing, tell an amusing anecdote or spew some artspeak and pretend I don't know the guy. Anyhow, I don't think I need to say much because AJ's work really speaks for itself. His fierce work ethic, which combined with his finely honed sense of craft, yields beautiful results; you know it when you see it. There is no confusing his work with anyone else's, and how often can you say that these days? Somehow it seemed appropriate to visit his studio in Philadelphia with the old 35mm camera in addition to the digital one. AJ has an opening Saturday the 13th of June for his show "There's Aliens in Our Midst" at White Walls.
Words and Photos by Alex Lukas
Ok, I am AJ Fosik. I'm originally from the post-industrial blight known as South East Michigan. I currently live in Phila, PA. Right now I primarily work with wood though I hesitate to use the term sculpture. I've been making three-dimensional wood constructions for about 5 years now and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.
I don't know, I think there's probably less of a search for an American identity in my work although that's is sort of inescapable for me but I think the sort of questions I'm wrestling with now are more about the random, chaotic and arbitrary nature of existence. I've been using a lot less recognizable iconography as well and I think right now the way my imagery functions is much more along the lines of a totem or fetish although with a different aim. As far as showing overseas it's interesting that the more personal my work has become the more there seems to be a universal shared understanding.
I do endorse the idea of traveling and moving as much as possible, being attached to nowhere and everywhere simultaneously. On the other hand I think having a more permanent workspace has really improved my work. It's a definite trade off. I used to just have one saw and an assortment of hand tools that I would lug around with me. Also, I was also dong more paintings, so my set up was very primitive, nothing I couldn't put in the back of my truck. In the last couple of years my shop has really grown along with my work and it seems like every new tool I acquire opens up new possibilities to me so I really can't imagine downsizing at this point. I don't think I'm done moving either, but with the current manifestation of wood shop/ studio I don't think paying off friends with beer is a viable moving option anymore.
Working 3d and 2d are sort of interchangeable for me right now. The basic way I construct a 2D image or 3D construction is really very similar and I think that's why there's is such a strong connection between the two. I mean essentially when I'm working on a 3D piece it's a lot of smaller drawings cut out of wood and then assembled together. I really like to play with that boundary between 2D and 3D, my pieces really exist in both places and that tension between the two is something I'm really interested in.
Yeah, surprisingly as much as I dislike using computers now they really have had a formative influence on my work. In a lot of my early stuff I was using digital techniques and collaging and morphing pre existing imagery. It was a way for me to achieve results beyond what I could do by hand. The end result of this was that I always felt a certain distance or detachment from my own work and when I look back at it now I think I probably felt a bit of dishonesty. I really made a point of ditching the computer all together and focused on doing everything by hand and my current work partially grew out of that struggle or opposition to working digitally. Recently I have started using the computer again but my approach to using it now is almost a complete 180 from what it was. The computer in my shop now functions as little more than another power tool for me. It's really just another tool in the shop to manipulate the medium I work in instead of being the medium.
Daily schedule is the same everyday- coffee, walk the dogs, make sawdust. My studio is in my loft space and this is the last time I'm doing that. I'm really somebody who needs that physical separation of workspace and living space. It really does take much more discipline to work from home. I have to make a conscious decision that OK I'm in the studio and then OK I'm done working, both can be equally challenging. Plus in the middle of winter I start to feel like I'm in Super Max lock down.
I really feel like I'm just getting warmed up so in the future I'm not sure were it's going but it's going to better. As for the White Walls show I like this line from Dan Reading 'I recommend going to see the White Walls show because I bet that up close, these things look like they are going to devour you, digest your spirit, and regurgitate it in the form of a thousand brightly colored pieces.'
"There's Aliens in Our Midst"
AJ Fosik solo show
June 13- July 4, 2009 (Opening June 13, 7-11pm)
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