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Art

Outside of the Studio, Andrew Erdos Has More Time to Think, Draw, and Reflect

By Eliza Jordan

June 9, 2020

The New York-based artist Andrew Erdos recently debuted a new work for his solo show at The Chimney in Brooklyn. Entitled “Not for the peak, but for the mountain,” the show premiered through a Zoom call with the Museum of Art and Design’s MAD Luminaries platform, featuring his largest sculpture to date.

Whitewall spoke with Erdos about how he’s spending time amid the COVID-19 pandemic, why he’s speaking up about privilege, and how he’s staying involved in recent anti-racist protests.

WHITEWALL: How are you doing?

ANDREW ERDOS: It has been almost three months since the world shut down and the pain and suffering that so many people were going through at the beginning of the pandemic are only getting worse. I am doing okay, but at this point, it isn’t about me. Talking about white privilege is a necessary conversation. It is crucial to speak openly about it, to reflect on it, and to use the position of privilege to help others more.

WW: What are you listening to, reading, watching?

AE: My attention at the beginning of the quarantine went into a pit of obsessively reading the news for hours and constantly being shocked by the continued failure of America to address this unprecedented crisis.

Now it has been one national tragedy after another. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many unnecessary deaths have rocked the nation. For the last few days, I have attended Black Lives Matter silent vigils and protests in Brooklyn.

I have been listening to music all day, every day in the studio. Most of the time it has actually been music I’ve listened to thousands of times since high school. Every type of reggae—from Dance Hall classics to old dub, to new artists. Some great bands coming out of Europe too, like La Femme and L’Impératrice, and every version of Ancora Tu on Spotify. Boney M. has been a great find from the ’70s, and to watch Prince concerts from the ’80s on YouTube never fails.

I just finished reading Command and Control by Eric Schlosser, which is a summary of the thousands of accidents that have happened with American Nuclear Arsenal during the Cold War.

I then started reading Man Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. I have recently found a beautiful Georgia O’Keeffe monograph that belonged to my grandmother. Her paintings of New York City and desert landscapes always amaze me. My wife has read all of Jesmyn Ward’s books, and earlier this week I started reading “The Fire This Time”—a collection of essays and poems about race in America.

The first evening after the national state of emergency was declared for the Coronavirus, I watched Stalker by Andrei Tarkovski. Since then, some highlights have been The Wild Child (L’Enfant sauvage) by François Truffaut and Kagemusha by Akira Kurosawa.

WW: How are you staying connected?

AE: It is June 3 today, and as I mentioned earlier, I have recently started going to Black Lives Matter protests in Brooklyn. I will attend a protest in the Philadelphia suburbs today.

I read the news constantly—outlets from the entire political spectrum—to attempt to understand how all the different facets of America are processing this moment in time.

WW: How are you staying creative?

AE: I was in the middle of producing works for several shows when everything stopped. I am doing my best to continue the pieces I have started.

I have had more time to think, to draw, and time to review sketchbooks from the last few years. My work is somewhat dependent on access to molten glass, so I am preparing the next ideas and plans for what to do when I return to the glass studio.

WW: Are you able to make work at this time?

AE: Thankfully, I am. I just finished installing my new solo show “Not for the peak, but for the mountain” in Brooklyn at The Chimney. We premiered the exhibition through a Zoom interview with the Museum of Art and Design’s Luminaries LIVE. It is my largest sculpture to date, and I am very excited to finally see it installed in the gallery.

WW: Where are you finding hope or inspiration?

AE: Just looking outside and getting the sense that we are all in this together. Watching people protest, gathering in support of the basic human rights so many are being denied. Marching peacefully through Brooklyn, blocking one of the busiest two-lane roads and having cars, city busses, and trains honking in support.

The COVID-19 crisis has had devastating consequences. The commitment of many to address systemic racism and widening inequalities is the only silver lining.

The planet is healing slightly, and hopefully we can learn from this. Over the past few years, I have had the great fortune of visiting several Ancestral Pueblo sites (formerly known as the Anastazi), and I am always impressed by the human ability to adapt and survive.

Andrew ErdosBlack Lives MatterBrooklynThe Chimney

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