Tom Bollinger is a sculptor who has produced large scale works that have appeared in public displays such as El Paso, Texas. For the last 15 years Tom has owned and operated Bollinger Atelier, a highly specialized Contemporary art, casting and fabrication studio which produces his work and that of artists such as Tom Sachs, Tom Otterness, Thomas Houseago, Donald Baechler, and the Louise Bourgeois Foundation, among others. Prior to acquiring the Arizona business, Tom was General Manager of the nationally recognized Art Foundry, Talix in Beacon, New York and Shidoni in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over the last 30 years Tom has also been a prolific studio artist, producing large scale works sold through galleries and commission work for municipalities and private collectors.
Tom proudly declares that he works as both an artist and an artisan and operates under the reality that process is as much the art as the form/mes¬sage. He draws his creative inspiration from his experiences of his youth in the 1950-60’s growing up on the Lakota and Oglalla Souix reservations in the Dakotas, from his travels and adventures, from reading history, and from his faith and family. Recently, Tom Bollinger spoke with the Examiner about his experiences working as an artist and his hopes for the future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when did you decide to become an artist?
Tom Bollinger (T.B.): Although I was creative as a child, I did not decide to “become” an artist until college.
M.M.: Growing up, which artists/types of art interested you?
T.B.: I had little to no exposure to art growing up. I was raised on the Sioux reservations in North and South Dakota, my parents were teachers. Once exposed to the reality that one could be an artist as a profession, I was drawn to sculpture, especially Brancusi and Giacometti.
M.M.: How would you describe your work and what inspires it?
T.B.: My work is inspired by my hope that we find a balance in the world and understand that we are all one. So the forms and shapes speak to that balance.
M.M.: How did you go about getting into galleries and/or shown publicly?
T.B.: I would guess in the normal way, gaining some reputation and with tenacity in approaching galleries and pursuing public art projects.
M.M.: Do you have a favorite piece? If so, which one and why?
T.B.: Probably “Gaia”, which pleases me as it is simple, but achieved my goal of paring down the form to meet my requirements for the goal of the sculpture. “Gaia” is at currently on exhibit at the El Paseo Invitational Sculpture Exhibition in Palm Desert, California.
M.M.: What are your mediums of choice?
T.B.: Sculptural forms, with final resolution of the form in cast bronze. I also work in fabricated metals, glass, resin and light. I’ve also worked with rip-stop nylon to fabricate inflatable forms.
M.M.: Are there any mediums that you haven’t worked with yet but hope to soon?
T.B.: I’d like to continue to experiment with light and shadow in an environment to create shapes and mood.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving your artwork and/or being an artist?
T.B.: The most rewarding experience personally is to find oneself in the creative “zone” when working on a project; which is the reason, I believe, we do this. Professionally, would be the unveiling of a large scale public work that took years to negotiate, create, and produce; such as with “Release” or “Spirit of the Angel”.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist?
T.B.: Be courageous, as this is one of the most entrepreneurial professions one could choose. Build relationships with others in the art world, and forgive yourself when times are tough. Enjoy the journey of creativity, not just the results.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
T.B.: I am working on a new studio scaled series involving more organic forms that speak of the connection between mankind and the environment, using the more textural organic forms to sculptural convey the concept is exciting to me.
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To learn more about Tom Bollinger visit his official website and Facebook.