JAMES PETERSON : ARTIST
I was always an inquisitive and creative kid and had a supportive family that helped to nurture that. When I was a child, this amazing person taught an art class at my elementary school where I learned life drawing when I was in the 6th grade. I took that same momentum and ran with it. By the time I was out of high school, I got a scholarship to a small private art school in Michigan called Kendall. At Kendall, I migrated through all the different curricula until I ended up at sculpture, largely because it was all inclusive unlike other mediums. You could mix painting and drawing together, but with sculpture anything went, so I gravitated towards it.
Q: What led you to get involved in sustainability and sustainable practices? Is this something you've always been passionate about?
I don’t have a favorite material but I’m a materials and processes geek, so I love all [materials]. For the piece I did in West Hollywood, I invented some materials and processes for that. I’m very interested in exploring different ways of getting to a place. I don’t have one that’s a favorite over the other. For me, I think it’s more about the different ways of juxtaposing and combining materials in an interesting way.
Q: Is your art interactive? How is it meant to be experienced?
Just about everything I make is designed to be interacted with. I’ve always reacted to this sense of wanting to incite change, get super involved in something or pull my audience into a conversation. Part of that is breaking down the more traditional barriers of art that limit people’s access to something. It’s a real challenge because people inherently will destroy things, even if they don’t mean to. I find it really compelling and fascinating that a lot of things are moving in the direction of experiential art. Getting art out of museums and getting it into these places where anyone has access to it makes the art more readily accessible. There’s a lot of fun associated with it, too. There’s a lot of joy. I’m interested in tapping into something that’s more about bringing us all up versus bringing us all down.
One of the biggest challenges for the type of work I do is longevity. Dealing with materials that can sustain and last for a long duration of time with sustainability in mind is a challenge. I focus a lot on the processes used there, what to do with the waste and how I’m going to handle the leftover materials from the making of it. I try to work with locally sourced vendors and support my community here in Los Angeles. That way I’m minimizing the added expense of freight from overseas or materials being shipped from far away. There are hidden consequences on the environment––carbon emissions and so forth. There are a lot of different metrics that look at that, so I try to take them all in and keep them all in mind when I’m making decisions about a project.