Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Jason Lake is an incredibly talented sculptor and I have been very fortunate in getting to see him make some of his work up close. Jason’s technical skill is striking and can go unnoticed if you don’t pay attention; clean welds and creative mechanics are the backbone of this work. It’s all clean and doesn’t pull any attention, which allows you to really take in these awesome pieces. The first works I saw from Lake were these rad lamps made from repurposed steel material, and they were impressive, but then he got to the University of Delaware, where I was an undergrad and he was a grad, and I saw these massive steel worlds which were striking based on scale alone and then as I got closer I saw little rooms, expertly crafted with all the fixtures. I mean, I was blown away by these 6-8 foot tall steel frame works by themselves but then I look in and see 1x1 inch chairs, table tops, etc. it’s wild, these pieces are incredible. Lake then shifted towards kinetic sculptures that do totally ridiculous tasks, they’re really fun and once again the technical skill of the pieces can go unnoticed. Jason Lake is one badass sculptor, honestly one of my favorites, you can find his work on our forum, and now you can read the conversation I got to have with him about his work. Enjoy!
1.First of all, give us a little background on your work and what got you to where you are. (inspirations, schooling, etc.)
I’m an artist from Florida currently in Philadelphia after recently graduating with my MFA from the University of Delaware. I like to primarily work with steel, along with many other objects and materials that find their way into my constructions. Much like painters have their collection of paints nearby, I surround myself with a multifarious assortment of parts, and parts to parts. Electric motors, gears, pulleys, toys, and unique thrift store finds are all a part of the mix. My work embodies a persistent atavism for the rhythmic design principles of the constructivist, while finding everyday inspiration in machinery and architecture from the industrial age. As I build, I find continuity between objects and materials with his wonky-logic. These wonkyisms evoke a surreal humor found throughout my work.
2. Some of the earliest works I saw from you were these rad lamps made from re-purposed metal, what got you into this kind of functional work?
The lamps came along as I started selling my work full time at art festivals. Half of my tent would be lamps and the other half was full of yard art: cats, dogs, even vintage-looking radios that could hang on a wall. I really enjoyed making the lamps. Each one was different, or at times I only had enough of a material to make a few matching ones. It was really satisfying, because they were quick little sculptures that I could finish in a day or two that served a function in someone’s home.
3. You also have these large steel worlds that you've created, again with scrap metal, what inspired these? What is the process like working from so small to so big (the intricate details creating such a massive piece)?
When I start a piece, I might have a few shadowy sketches or ideas on my mind. However, once I start working on the piece it can go in any direction. If I’m stalled on a section of the sculpture, I might get the ball rolling again by hastily adding a part or two. Once I do that, my brain has something to focus on to integrate and balance the sculpture out. The piece is finished when it feels done. The smaller detailed parts of some sculptures are like building small forts as a child. I like to imagine walking through my creations with little passages and walk ways leading to hideaway areas or interesting looking machines that do something that the viewer’s imagination can fill in.
4. I also want to hear about your work in kinetic sculpture (like Pillow Cooler, which can be seen in the forum) and these wacky moving pieces that you’ve worked on.
My kinetic pieces are my most current works. I’ve slowly moved away from strictly only using steel and repurposed metals to using wood, concrete, or found objects. Sometimes I start with an idea that I’ve been milling around with in my head and need to get it out. Or I’ll start building some sort of motorized mechanism and while I’m working on it, it will eventually lead me into the direction it wants to go. The Pillow Cooler was a very old idea. Occasionally I would sketch out some ideas but all of them seemed too mechanical or intricate. Then one day the simplicity of a fan blowing over ice popped in my head and I started tinkering from there.
5. Finally, what do you think drove your work in metal down all of these different avenues?
Curiosity, imagination, tinkering, problem-solving.
6. PLUGS! Where can people find your work?
Remember Folks! Feature Friday is an awesome way to get your work seen and promoted, as well as make you eligible for other prizes! But, you’ve got to post on that forum so we can see your work and promote it! So post, comment and post some more! Let’s see and talk about all of your work!