I visited Eric's studio in Nyack in February. I went with a group of students from the school I teach at. His workspace is situated directly across the street from his house along a winding hilly road. The exterior of his studio is covered with rusty old objects like gears, tools, and wheels. Part of his studio was open to the elements and only had a roof overhead shielding his collection of stuff. There he had shelves and shelves of random small objects, large heavy objects, works in progress, and some large machinery. The inside of his studio, where he does most of his work, had a similar look of "controlled chaos" (a trait common to most artist's studios).
Eric showed my students and I finished works of his that ranged from his days as a student to pieces that he had only recently completed. There were other pieces that he shared with us that he was in the process of repairing or completing for other people, and commissioned projects. All in all, there was artwork and tools in every nook and cranny of his workspace.
Not every sculpture of his that I had seen resonated with me, but there were several that I loved. One quality that makes Eric such a unique artist is that he makes both refined, polished, planned pieces, and crude, scrap metal pieces that are spontaneously created. I preferred the crude to the polished. I enjoyed his little rusty wall pieces, that looked like sculptural collages. I found of interest his freestanding works that combined steel with rock and wood. I was inspired by his works that reflected forms from nature. And I loved his three tortured and timeworn looking figurative sculptures.
Eric also spoke to my students about art and how it relates to life. He had only wisdom to offer them. What follows is what he said put into my own words...
Trying to be original is of no use because everything has already been done. However, when you accept yourself and create art authentically without desire to please others, your work naturally becomes original and something in it becomes new.
When you are creating art do not focus on the end result because then you will only enjoy 10% of the process. You have to find a way to enjoy every step of the way, even when that encompasses the sweeping of your studio floor and the cleaning of your work table. Be present in every moment and then you will live a happy life.
Don't allow a work of art that you are creating become precious to you. When that happens you are less likely to take risks, and risk-taking is what art is all about.
*** Note: some pictures in this blog are from www.ericlaxman.com