You are on page 1of 6

Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Peters | Art21 Blog

1/13/13 7:42 PM





Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Peters

July 31st, 2009 by Georgia Kotretsos

new artists, new films

Like Tweet 27 0


Art21 Blog feed Video feed Education feed Guest Blog feed

New films in New York Close Up premiering throughout 2012

flash points


recent comments
How are stories and art intertwined? Agnieszka in Dissecting the Social Self: A [Wo]Man, an Animal, and an Ambiguous I. : Interesting... dennis in When Works of Literature Make The Leap: Joe, looking at Glenn Ligon this summer inspired me to give my ap... Kyle in Videogame Appropriation in Contemporary Art: Grand Theft Auto (GTA): I love the amount of work Rockstar puts... Docsson in The Art + Brain Files: These sound, to me at least, the same comments that were (and for some continue to... Birgitte Lamb in More Moments, More Dialogue: Hi Joe. This sounds very interesting and is clearly a subject of... In and out of the classroom

featured video

Jason Peters at his studio in Salina Art Center.

Jason Peters is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Over the years, he has discovered his muse in found objects whether they are tires, buckets, or another material that allows him to manipulate it in vast quantities. He is a builder, a maker, and a worker who often turns trash into precious and delicate structures by using modular elements, which he then interconnects like building blocks to create entirely new forms. Peterss large organic, illuminated structures are playful and light. Somehow they seem easy, as if the artist simply gestured with his hands in space. Im rarely drawn to works that seduce my eyes and I never quite trust them, but in Peterss case, there is a quality that made me reconsider this. It can easily happen to you too, if you view one of his light sculptures in person. Youll instantly feel like youre 5 years old all over again and carefree. You would not realize it right away, but after a few moments passed, youd be able to hear yourself softly gasping with astonishment. Youd be convinced youre inside some computer game, where a suspending glowing structure is shapeshifting as you walk around it. Today Im introducing you to Jason Peters. Lets consider the limitations an emerging sculptor is faced with early in his career, and how these limitations currently work to his advantage. Georgia Kotretsos: How important is having a studio for your practice? Jason Peters: To begin withhaving one would be nice but not having a studio has never stopped me from creating work. It was a combination of things in college, where I first began making large works realizing that material manipulation comes at a cost. This is when I started using found objects in large quantities. As this process evolved, I had no desire to accumulate or store materials. I only wanted to build the sculpture, document it, and move on to the next project. Also, I had nowhere to store my work or [sustained] interest in it per se, because the art market hadnt yet value assigned value to my work. So I would either throw the works out or Id put them back where I had found the materials in the first place in the trash. As an artist, I feel that the potential to create is within oneself. The times I had the opportunity to work at a studio were due to being an artist-in-residence. It has been great because it allows me to create 2D works. Being able to create without worrying is a wonderful thing.

David Altmejd: "Assistants"

teaching with contemporary art

About Art21 About the Art21 Blog Writers and Contributors


Sign up

art21 online
Michael Neault, Content and Media Producer, Portland, OR on on on on Facebook on Flickr on iTunes on PBS on Twitter on YouTube

> Columns (1284) > 5 Questions for Contemporary Practice (21) > Alchemy of Inspiration (5) > Art 2.1: Creating on the Social Web (16) > Bedfellows: Art and Visual Culture (15) > BOMB in the Building (19) > Bound: The Printed Object in

16 Miles of String 2 Buildings 1 Blog Art Fag City

Page 1 of 6

Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Peters | Art21 Blog

Context (6) > Cairo in Context: Art and Change in the Middle East (4) > Calling from Canada (15) > Center Field | Art in the Middle with Bad at Sports. (58) > Future Metaphors (3) > Gastro-Vision (37) > GIF(t) Basket (8)
Jason Peters, "Untitled," 2009. Drawing cutouts, 19 x 20 inches.

1/13/13 7:42 PM

Art Whirled Artlog ArtsBeat Bad at Sports BAM 150 BOMBlog C-Monster Creative Capital The Lab Culture Monster Ed Winkleman Eyeteeth Henry Art Gallery: Hankblog Hrag Vartanian Hyperallergic IMA Blog LACMA: Unframed Look Into My Owl Mattress Factory Modern Art Notes MoMA: Inside/Out New Curator OC Art Blog PBS NewsHour: Art Beat SFMOMA: Open Space The Artblog The Ben Street The Daily Beast The Gray Area (Grey Art Gallery, NYU) The Huffington Post Two Coats of Paint updownacross VernissageTV Walker Art Center

> Gimme Shelter: Performance Now (18) > Ink: Notes on the Contemporary Print (29) > Inside the Artist's Studio (40) > Inspired Reading (12) > Letter from London (92) > Lives and Works in Berlin (28) > Looking at Los Angeles (81) > New Kids on the Block (4) > No Preservatives: Conversations about Conservation (37) > On Location: Inside Art Documentary Production (9) > On View Now (32) > Open Enrollment (145) > Praxis Makes Perfect (35) > Problematic: Answering Questions with Questions (2) > Revolution 2.1 (3) > Teaching with Contemporary Art (268) > The Weekly Roundup (198) > Transmission (5) > Turkish and Other Delights (11) > What's Cookin': The Art21ndex (34) > Word is a Virus (7) Week in Review (1) > Flash Points: (421) Compassion: Do artists have a social responsibility? (29) Fantasy: Does art expand our ability to imagine? (26) How are stories and art intertwined? (12) How can art effect political change? (74) How do we experience art? (73) How does art respond to and redefine the natural world? (40) How is art influenced? (35) Must art be ethical? (40) Systems: Can art transcend paradigms? (32)

Living in Brooklyn, NY, I have a 40-60 hour-a-week fabrication job, which is how I survive. I have a place in my house where I make work, but it is not a studio setting. I make work when I can, and I do not particularly worry about making work all the time, since some days I get close to making a work and others I feel like I could lose my mind. GK: Basically, youre telling me you create in-situ installations, which are built directly on-site. Where do you usually show? What are the conditions that allow you to work at a given location each time? JP: My works are the products of a systematic process consisting equally of conceptual, formal, and practical elements. I show at places that want to give me a chance. My first large-scale project was at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe in 2004. It was my first selfproduced solo show. I was brought there by the curator, Kathleen Haniggin, on whom I relied heavily to help with gathering access to materials and volunteers. I went there with a few ideas, but I knew that all could change depending on the material I would find (which would dictate what I could build). The works I build are site-specific because I rarely move any of them around. Recently I did [move my work], for [a project at] The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, MO; I will talk about that later on. Basically in Santa Fe, I came across buckets driving through the countryside. What is curious to me here is that I had chosen to collect 400 buckets, while somebody else had decided to thrown them out.

January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010

One persons trash is anothers treasure. Having found my material under time constraints, a toy I played with from my early childhood came to mind. Remember those wooden snakes that you held by the tail and they moved? Well, the inherent properties of the physical shape of the bucket contributed to the creation of the first bucket piece. This show was entirely possible because someone offered me the space and invited me to create a sculpture it was an opportunity to manipulate space. In 2006 at the Mattress Factory, I was given full license and funding to create anything I wanted. The environment that Michael Olijnyk and Barbara Luderowski have created is amazing and [it] allowed me to grow and evolve by [enabling me to] make my first light sculpture (structure). I came up with a simple solution to highlight my initial material by presenting it floating in negative space. I figured if I lit the work from the inside and created a black room (background), I could remove it from the site itself. This gives you an experience but also make you aware of your other senses by default. Somehow the illusion of infinite space is created, which further impacts viewers emotionally while they remain physically grounded. For instance, when working with White Flag Projects in St. Louis, MO in 2008, Matt Strauss gave me only two weeks to install a two-day show.

Jason Peters, "No More No Less," 2008, at White Flag Projects, St. Louis, MO.

The New Culture Wars: What's at Stake? (9) Transformation: How does art adapt and change over time? (26)

Most would say that was crazy for a 3000 square-foot space. The show did happen somehow and I was very pleased with the direction and the dimension my work was taking at the time.

Page 2 of 6

Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Peters | Art21 Blog

1/13/13 7:42 PM

What influences art? (47) What is the value of art? (83) What's so shocking about contemporary art? (40) > Video: (528) Classroom (15) Conversation (8) Excerpt (35) Exclusive (186) New York Close Up (62) Reblog (198) Spoof (6) Uncut (4)
Jason Peters, "No More No Less," 2008, at White Flag Projects, St. Louis, MO.

May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007

Access '12 (1) Art21 Access '09 (25) Art21 Artists: (1390) Ai Weiwei (19) Alejandro Almanza Pereda (1) Alfredo Jaar (59) Allan McCollum (40) Allora & Calzadilla (68) An-My L (30) Andrea Zittel (49) Ann Hamilton (47) Arturo Herrera (39) assume vivid astro focus (5) Barbara Kruger (65) Barry McGee (75) Beryl Korot (10) Bruce Nauman (82) Cai Guo-Qiang (68) Cao Fei (47) Carrie Mae Weems (79) Catherine Opie (7) Catherine Sullivan (26) Charles Atlas (28) Cindy Sherman (61) Collier Schorr (35) David Altmejd (4) David Brooks (3) Diana Al-Hadid (2) Do-Ho Suh (43) Doris Salcedo (30) El Anatsui (17) Eleanor Antin (40)

To this day, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts has given me the biggest opportunity. I created a light sculpture in a 20,000 square-foot field for a show entitled The Light Project (2008). The challenge was, how do I build something that does not look like we just plopped a sculpture down on the lawn? It had to compete with the buildings around it, and I needed to construct a structure of some sort to support the light piece. Since I had always loved scaffolding, I incorporated it into the piece to facilitate my artistic needs, by building a 32 x 32 x 24 squarefoot structure to juxtapose the curvilinear and linear elements against each other.

Jason Peters, "The Light Project," 2008, at The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, MO.

Before I can get to this point, the most important aspect of my work are the people who come forward to volunteer by assisting the making of each work. Without them, nothing could be done.

support art21
Your tax-deductible donation provides crucial support for Art21 projects.

Admin access

I usually have tons of ideas; I think most artists do. But time, money, and opportunity do not always align perfectly or simultaneously. I could always have more of everything, but I like to start with what can I get. Donations of materials are always of great help, since that is half or more of any budget for a show. What I have learned is to find the boundaries of what is offered to me in terms of money, time, and space start with what I have, and adjust the project to each set of limitations. It is the worst when you are shot down at every turn, so I now ask, What are you willing to donate? I have always made what I wanted and I feel my work represents me in the best light. Nonetheless, without thinking twice, I would never undertake a project if I thought it could not be done within reason, or if insufficient support is offered while unreasonable expectations are projected. GK: You live and work in New York. Do you feel like a New York artist? What does it mean to you to identify as one? JP: Most of my shows have been outside of NYC. What is that label really all about? Most artists are from somewhere else; NYC somehow makes us look better on paper. Personally, I grew up in Munich, Germany, and once I was finished college in Baltimore, I had to go somewhere and NYC was the city on the East Coast. So I moved here and am giving it a shot. It has now been 10 years and counting that Ive lived in NYC. Only now do I call myself a New Yorker: a New York artist, more so than an artist living in New York. The competition is crazy; NYC has so many artists competing for the same venues, its like Rome during the gladiator days. And more keep coming. I think you have to have a really thick skin and the mental capacity to enjoy this kind of challenge. When people ask whether I like being there, I [tell them I] cannot see myself anywhere else at

Elizabeth Murray (17) Ellen Gallagher (26) Erin Shirreff (1) Florian Maier-Aichen (19) Fred Wilson (35) Gabriel Orozco (55) Glenn Ligon (15) Hiroshi Sugimoto (54) Hubbard & Birchler (8) Iigo Manglano-Ovalle (25) Ida Applebroog (27) James Turrell (48) Janine Antoni (43) Jeff Koons (89) Jenny Holzer (99) Jessica Stockholder (37) John Baldessari (79) John Feodorov (4) Josephine Halvorson (2)

Page 3 of 6

Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Peters | Art21 Blog

this point; I love it here. What I have created is a great network, which in the end will pay off. I have established my sources; I can find and get anything at a moments notice either on the street or from a supplier. I can leave the city when I want, and for any period of time. I can always find someone to sublet [my apartment] and cover my costs when away. I always have a job when I get back and I can make a good living when I am working for others. The goal, though, is to make a living from my work, which I will see in time. For me, this city is the one of the most amazing place I have ever visited; I just have to watch out and take care of myself. It is a city where anything is possible; it is what you do which makes it so or not. I would not be where I am today if I hadnt moved here. The city has affected me. I feel like an artist first and foremost, and I would be one anywhere else I would have chosen to live. NYC is just a location expensive, yet filled with potential. GK: Where would you ideally like to install one of your pieces? JP: The ideal place would be an interesting and challenging one. I am attracted to spaces that have a powerful presence. Some are naturally lit and others are artificially so. Spaces where things are maybe not expected to be. For example, when I was approached by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts to do a piece, they said it has to be in this place ,which was a 150-foot by 120-foot field. It would not have been the space I would have chosen, but it pushed me to do something I had never done before which I am grateful for. Places that have inspired me are: interiors of churches, rooftops, billboards, and shipping container boats or the lots that store the empties (like the exit in Jersey off I-95 going into the Lincoln tunnel). A space that has intrigued me a lot is the atrium of MoMA. The museum has so much space, but the biggest is the multi-story space in the heart of the museum that has not been yet challenged with a work of art. It would have to be huge to have an impact on the space. GK: What are you working on now? Where can we find your next installation? JP: Currently, Im an artist-in-residence at the Salina Art Center in Salina, Kansas.

1/13/13 7:42 PM

Josiah McElheny (44) Judy Pfaff (40) Julie Mehretu (60) Kalup Linzy (20) Kara Walker (86) Keltie Ferris (10) Kerry James Marshall (47) Kiki Smith (85) Kimsooja (20) Krzysztof Wodiczko (37) Lari Pittman (21) LaToya Ruby Frazier (12) Laurie Anderson (57) Laurie Simmons (42) Laylah Ali (36) Liz Magic Laser (2) Louise Bourgeois (93) Lucas Blalock (8) Lynda Benglis (5) Margaret Kilgallen (17) Mariah Robertson (5) Marina Abramovi (16) Mark Bradford (100) Mark Dion (88) Martha Colburn (8) Martin Puryear (35) Mary Heilmann (33) Mary Reid Kelley (8) Matthew Barney (52) Matthew Ritchie (30) Maya Lin (56) Mel Chin (32)

Jason Peters's studio at the Salina Art Center.

Michael Ray Charles (6) Mika Tajima (7) Mike Kelley (84) Nancy Spero (51) Oliver Herring (54) Paul McCarthy (46) Paul Pfeiffer (22) Pepn Osorio (16) Pierre Huyghe (35) Rackstraw Downes (5) Rashid Johnson (17) Raymond Pettibon (52) Richard Serra (69)

I have made a lot of 2D work for the first time [in a while], so I am going to continue with the drawings I have been making. I have made 20 drawings so far and will see if I can find an exhibition opportunity for them likely in the fall.

Jason Peters, "Untitled," 2009. Drawing cutouts, 19 x 20 inches.

Richard Tuttle (37) Robert Adams (37) Robert Mangold (4) Robert Ryman (31) Roni Horn (34) Sally Mann (30) Sarah Sze (11) Shahzia Sikander (32) Shana Moulton (11) Susan Rothenberg (19)

Left: Jason Peters, "Crossing Paths," 2009; Right: Jason Peters, "Captive Muse," 2009.

Tabaimo (4) Tim Hawkinson (22) Tommy Hartung (4) Trenton Doyle Hancock (38) Ursula von Rydingsvard (35) Vija Celmins (29) Walton Ford (21) William Kentridge (91) William Wegman (35)

I have applied to a lot of programs, so I will see if anything comes through. The next major installation series is for a solo show entitled Anti. Gravity. Material. Light. at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in late January-April 2010. They have given me a 6000 square-foot gallery on the first floor, allowing me to make a sizeable work, or perhaps several. We are currently figuring out the exact layout. Then I am going to Sculpture Space in Utica, NY, for FebruaryMarch 2010 to make some more new work.

Page 4 of 6

Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Peters | Art21 Blog

1/13/13 7:42 PM

Yinka Shonibare MBE (61) Art21 News (300) Biennials (61) Education (432) Exhibitions (735) Festivals (49) Guest Blog (710) Interviews (305) Locations: (1669) Africa (15) Argentina (5) Asia (15)
Jason Peters, "Untitled," 2009. Drawing cutouts, 20 x 32 inches.

Australia (12) Brazil (2) Canada (48) Caribbean (2) China (24) Colombia (5) Cuba (4) Denmark (11)

### I have no doubt I will be talking to Jason Peters again in the near future. Engaging in conversation with the artists Ive introduced you to so far helps me maintain my sanity as an artist. Ive always needed this kind of dialogue for my own practice, and doing so from here makes it even more valuable. And thats a wrap!
6 Tweet 0 Like 27 0

Egypt (2) Finland (10) France (26) Germany (83) Greece (23) Guatemala (1) Iceland (2) India (7) Iraq (2) Ireland (7) Israel (1) Italy (31) Japan (6) Korea (2) Mexico (11) Middle East (14) Netherlands (13) Peru (3) Poland (3) Russia (2) Scotland (3) South Africa (13) Spain (29) Sweden (10) Switzerland (18) Taiwan (1) Thailand (1) Turkey (22) Ukraine (1) United Kingdom (154) USA (1271) Boston (27) Chicago (165) Connecticut (3) Houston (9) Indianapolis (28) Los Angeles (185) Miami (18) Minneapolis (3) Nebraska (3)

Posted in: > Inside the Artist's Studio, Installation, Interviews, New York City, Public Art, Sculpture Similar posts: How to Make a Series of Poignant Conceptual Sculptures Based on the Physical Differences Between Your Body and Another Persons Body , One Hour Photo: Yves Mdam , New installation by James Turrell at Albright-Knox Art Gallery , Inside the Artists Studio: Dafni E. Barbageorgopoulou, Athens , Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Bailer Losh Comments (3)

3 Responses to Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Peters Whats Cookin at the Art21 Blog: A Weekly Index | Art21 Blog on July 31, 2009 9:51 pm [...] Step Inside the Artists Studio : Georgia Kotretsos talks with Brooklyn based artist Jason Peters. [...]

Thulani Earnshaw on August 3, 2009 5:13 pm Yes! I think it is important for Jason to break the mystic of the mysterious artist getting by. Being a responsible artist who is not afraid to apply or ask for financial or social labour is important today. Sculpture is an oddity. The YBAs(old phrasology now) pretty much summarised what we(early twenties to ealry thirties) wanted to say for the next five years (on a populist majority level) so my hat off to the London crew(also artists in Mexico City have summarised Sculpture for the next 5 to 10 yrs). What Jason is doing is wonderful. It is still within a late capitalist collapsing framework yet with subtle refractions and allusions on a technological elite(who have thrived, economically, through the co-option of energy in the form of light in this regard) Georgia,it is important to note that the Logo of Art 21(string theory graphing?)is very similar in rhythm to Jasons sculpture. Is this a nod to science stirring artists in their imagination or is it Barogue married to post-Mondrian dialogues? Dont know yet but damn it!! The mans sculpture is beautiful and refreshing and i would nt mind a piece of it in my house. Thulani Reply

New Frontiers | Jason Peters, Anti.Gravity.Material.Light | Oklahoma City Museum of Art on July 23, 2010 1:30 am [...] an interview posted on Art 21: Blog, artist, writer, and art critic Georgia Kotretsos states, Peters is an artist based in [...]

New Orleans (23) New York City (569) North Carolina (4) Ohio (10)

Page 5 of 6

Inside the Artists Studio: Jason Peters | Art21 Blog

1/13/13 7:42 PM

Philadelphia (21)
Trackback URI | Comments RSS Name (required) Email (required) Website Leave a Reply

Pittsburgh (6) Portland (3) San Francisco (89) Seattle (12) Texas (30) Washington (4) Washington D.C. (28) Media: (1629) Architecture (60) Design (82) Drawing & Collage (285) Fashion (27) Film & Video (421) Food (42) Installation (590) New Media (261) Painting (377) Performance (346) Photography (329) Printmaking (95) Public Art (224) Sculpture (455) Social (208) Sound (41) Sound & Music (100) Photos (23) Podcasts (14) Prizes (46) Programs-Events (297) Publications (103) Season 5 (113) Season 6 (32) Support Art21 (19) Uncategorized (75) William Kentridge: Anything is Possible (20)

Submit Comment

Art21, Inc. 20012013. All rights reserved. Art21 is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization; all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
contact us posts(RSS) comments (RSS) top

Page 6 of 6

Related Interests