Unconventional Forms: Interview with Deane McGahan
Interview by Alicia Puig
Deane McGahan is contemporary sculptor currently residing in the Seattle metropolitan area. As having grown up in the Northwest, her aesthetic sensibilities are deeply rooted in the region. Not only as an appeal to the natural beauty at her doorstep but the lived-in experience of people, the effectual charge of living, which Seattle and its many haunts have afforded her.
"This new body of work is inspired by the desire to create unconventional forms. Shapes that push the boundaries of the material employed. Altering what ordinarily is the solid uniformity of concrete into casts that seem pulled, stretched, in transit. To take the stone and make it rip, blend, emote. To revise what is normally the process of casting the wet matrix of concrete into a solid block. To discover instead a form that looks like a sound wave instead of a static obelisk. A reverberation rather than an inert constant.
My aim is to create work that inspires, connects and contributes. Work that bridges the abstraction of human emotion and solid objects. If there is a message in my work, it is the suggestion that untamed feeling might be captured for a moment in the immutable. A snapshot, as it were, of flow caught in an object and held in stasis."
How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?
I always knew from a young age that I wanted to fully pursue art. I studied commercial art in college where I sort of fell into making video games before gaming jobs were a thing. Over the course of 25 years, I primarily worked as a 3D environment artist on AAA titles. It was a great way to make a living, but over time I felt the need to build more tangible things, made real, be effectually experienced. Shifting from 3D modeling to sculpting felt like a natural shift, as I found that the spatial awareness I developed in the digital world was applicable to the real world.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork or a specific series that you're currently working on.
On a high level, my inspiration fuels from how we evolve through creativity. I'm obsessed with connecting the dots of human growth and art. I have to sculpt every day or something feels wrong. It's like a raw encoded emotion in me to create or die. Capturing these feelings through new shapes and space helps me navigate life. That, and it feels damn good.
What mediums do you use and how do they add to the effect of your work?
I primarily sculpt with concrete because the medium itself connects back to my inspiration for evolving. Normally it's cast into solid blocks for function but to revise the process, experiment, and present new shapes highly influences my work. It's also not a very forgiving medium, which forces me to make lots of decisions in the moment while it's still in a workable state. Ultimately the process itself defines and continues to evolve my style.
Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?
My space is quite small for sculpting. I'm constantly rearranging to make room for projects. Right now I'm fine with that, as I've learned that the most important thing about a creative space is to not let it dictate your ability to move forward. I figure it out as I go.
Can you tell us about how where you reside and grew up has influenced your art?
Currently, I live in Seattle but I grew up in Portland and have been in the Pacific Northwest most of my life. The beauty of our region is a given as an influence in my work but the lived-in experiences of the people and the city really drive me.
Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?
I'm excited to share that I'm going to be part of the Relish group art show opening on June 7th. It's at the new 9th and Thomas building in South Lake Union. It's great to see non-traditional curated shows starting to pop up around town.