Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
I was born in Florida, but moved to Pennsylvania at a young age. I grew up in a trailer park in the suburbs of Philadelphia by a strong-willed, hard-working mother of two boys. My mother had to work three jobs to keep us afloat. Oftentimes my brother and I were responsible for watching over each other. I slept in an oversized closet and my mother slept on the couch. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the most important lessons in life (and by extension, how to be an artist) were being ingrained in me at such a young age because of my upbringing. I learned the value of hard work, and that life was only going to give back what I put in. I remember taking a liking to painting in my young teenage years and would set up an easel in our tiny yard and paint for hours. I maintained this juvenile (yet solemn) interest in making things all the way through college, where I found my true passion: sculpture.
What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?
My work has been somewhat multidisciplinary up until the last few years, where I have really moved back into object making. After my undergrad, I had taken a job at an industrial fine art casting foundry. I had some metalworking experience under my belt at the time, but nothing prepared me for the actuality of grinding out those back-breaking and ever tiring 40 hours a week in industry. I learned so much from that place on a technical level and for many years I used those skill sets to pass on to students at the academic institutions I had worked at. I think for a while I had this sort of existential crisis with pigeonholing myself as a “metal artist”, probably because of where I came from. However, these days foundry work has been absolutely critical to my process and ways I think.
What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?
One theme that has seemingly always stuck with me is materiality; what the potentiality of certain materials can do and say to the content of your work. Currently, I am heavily invested in casting bronze for a number of reasons; bronze is a material that has very deep roots in art history, while also being a semi-precious metal with thousands of years of economic ties embedded into it. My process is deeply rooted in traditional and contemporary mold-making techniques which lend themselves to the casting of objects in various forms.
Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?
I have lived and worked all over the United States and traveled extensively outside of it as well. Because of this, I have been fortunate enough to know and work with many extremely talented and generous people across many disciplines and walks of life. However, I can think of two people that have been pivotal in the aiding of my work, both in ideation and production. Those two people are my former professor and remarkable sculptor, Line Bruntse, and my current esteemed colleague, a close friend and lifelong artist, Edward Gillum. Artists I am currently looking at as sources of inspiration also include; Tulio Pinto, Tony Matelli, Urs Fischer, Liz Magor, Christoph Weber, and Tony Tasset.
Where do you find inspiration?
Simply put: from the peculiarities of the natural world and odd, commonplace items ingrained inside of it. I look at every object we surround ourselves with as one of potential. Oftentimes my work starts with a juvenile admiration for something, then a subconscious urge of seeing that thing change its material and then thinking hard about what that shift means or does. I am also an avid traveler and have family living in China whom I regularly visit. I have been studying Mandarin for the past 2 years and although it is not present in my work, I do believe the juxtaposition of understanding two language systems engages my thinking and helps me contemplate deeper the duality in the things I make.
Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?
There are a few series I am currently working in. I have been tirelessly casting found tree branches and rocks from the Yosemite Wilderness in bronze, aluminum, and glass, which will continue on as larger sculptures down the line. On top of this, I am working on a larger series of crumpled cardboard boxes cast in bronze that will support very heavy objects on top of them. There are so many things that inform our world in-between the natural (tree branches) and synthetic (cardboard boxes), so I am always finding objects that intrigue me and use them in larger bodies after they are cast in their respective material. In my studio you’ll often find an abundance of objects that I’ve taken molds of; some find their way in completed work and some are left alone to ponder at a later time.
How did it begin? and how did it evolve?
My current work is being informed by a few different themes; materiality, weight, balance, found objects, monuments, and monoliths. In “Yosemite Cairn” and “Lineage” (2019) I found an interesting magic from building very heavy things on top of objects we would otherwise think of being quite weak. From my “Monolith for Stranger Times” series I was influenced by the juxtaposition of casting found objects and making assemblages out of them. In “Untitled / Concrete Shipping Blankets” I am pushing towards this direction of monumentality and questioning its use. At the core of all of these pieces lies a deeply profound exploration of mold making and casting techniques which become the crux in terms of material language and shifting expectations when the work finds its way towards completion.
What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?
As you can probably gather from most of my in-progress work, the pieces rarely have an end goal in mind when I start making something. I am very interested in process and materials. By spending a great deal of time building and casting a piece I am able to understand it on a deeper basis. Because of this, I have learned to kind of let go of having ideas from the start and trying to type-cast what a sculpture could mean. I am much more interested in what a sculpture can do. Most of my decision making comes after a diligent process of getting to know the work, which only happens through process.
What are you working on now?
I am in the middle of about twenty new pieces, so on any given day I could find myself tirelessly polishing metal, welding patches on freshly cast pieces, grinding out metal imperfections, making new molds, chasing waxes, investing objects for glass casting, and anything in between. It is what I love about being a sculptor, I can be in multiple processes between various stages if I want, or I can solely focus on only one thing a day. As far as completed work, I am in the final stages of completion right on a few of these cast bronze boxes which are requiring some assembling and waiting on other pieces that are in the casting process. I am also in the midst of high polishing those deflated basketballs that are also cast in bronze, which has taken some great effort thus far. Follow me on instagram to watch the process, I post regularly and there is plenty in the pipeline.
If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?
Make work using your gut, not your brain. Add some non-fiction to your fiction. Listen to the process and take every failure in stride. Be relentless; if you have a desire to pursue something, pursue it no matter what. Don’t overthink things, silence the haters…and make…sometimes solely for the sake of making.
About the Artist
Andrew Orloski (b. 1986) is a multidisciplinary artist who primarily works in the language of sculpture. Andrew lives and works in Fresno, California but was raised outside of Philadelphia and has spent the past decade working for various colleges and universities around the country; namely Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Grinnell College in Iowa, and most recently, California State University, Fresno. The artist is currently an MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and holds a BFA from Millersville University, Pennsylvania, and a Post Baccalaureate in Sculpture and Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
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