HOWARD HERSH

 

To begin, could you tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I'm a early baby boomer, born in 1948, Los Angeles.  The biggest formative event was living on Long Island, New York from age 2 to 8.  Our single horseshoe shaped street was surrounded by an endless forest.  Me and the many other baby boomer kids all practically lived in the woods.  I think my connection with nature began in those years.  

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 50's and 60's, there was a car culture that included hand painted sweatshirts of hot rods.  This really activated my artistic genes and began a lifetime of drawing.

Describe your journey to becoming an artist. Has it been easy? Natural? What has been difficult?

Looking back to my teen years, drawing and making things were my biggest interest.  I can say with certainty that neither were encouraged as career choices.  It wasn't until after roaming, physically and spiritually, through my 20's that my calling as an artist became clear.  In 1984, at 36 years old. I moved to New Mexico to try to become a full time artist.  To my surprise, it worked, and quite well too.  It has not always been easy though; I've worked through three major recessions.  Regardless of the ups and downs, I could not imagine doing anything else.

How would you describe your work to someone?

Geometric abstraction.  Combining sculpture and painting.  Presenting paintings as objects.

What is important for viewers to note when viewing your work?

Relationships, layering, order/randomness, ambiguity and meaning.

What is your process like? How important is process in understanding your work?

My process has always combined a dual methodology.  Presently, it's the precise engineering and constructing with wood, combined with a more spontaneous and intuitive application of paint.  Because I reveal both methods, almost equally, they indeed are important, almost by default.

I’m interested to know how you arrived at your choice of process, materials, and ‘style’? How did this develop?

Everything I do, whether it's materials or styles, have developed and changed over the course of the 35 years of working in the studio.

What does your work aim to say?

Ideally, it would be my wish that the viewer would linger and open themselves to whatever comes.  And of course, I would judge the works success by the length of time one would linger.

What my work says to me is all about trying to erase the illusion of separation.  The them and us.  By illustrating similarities, I am promoting connectedness.

Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how they have impacted your work?

Being a self taught artist, my influences came more from what I would consider peers than from artists from other historical periods.  In my early years as an artist I was very influenced by contemporaries such as Bleckner, Winters, Dine, Schnabel, etc.  As I matured within my own practice, the influences were diluted by my own processes.

Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration for me is the steady and unrelenting desire to create more relevant, more resolved, and more impactful work.  Work that surprises and impresses it's harshest critic, me!

In your experience, what is the best thing about being an artist? What is the hardest thing about being an artist?

For me, the best thing is the act of creation itself.  Challenging but rewarding, a never ending journey of exploration, successes and failures.  

The hardest part is working within a marketplace that does not necessarily reward quality or originality.

If you were not an artist, what would you be?

Before becoming a full time studio artist, I had dreams of being an architect.

What piece of advice would you give to a young artist?

Work, work, work.  Be critical, don't be attached to work that does not measure up.  Keep showing up and keep creating.

 
Adam Reid Fox