Kemper Museum Chief Curator Barbara O’Brien interviews Brooklyn-based artist Eric Fertman, who made a conscious decision to stay in New York after graduating with a BFA from Cooper Union in 1997.
This decision was important in his success as it allowed him to stay connected to a supportive group of people. “One person gets their foot in the door, and then they pull their friends in with them.”
Fertman juxtaposes shapes inspired by cartoons and childhood nostalgia with abstract shapes from art history. “Maybe it’s a very contemporary notion, but there’s no difference any more. I think it’s all fair game.” The rotary telephone and other obsolete forms “have a past, but are also leaving our world.”
Fertman uses craftsmanship and scale in his work to engage viewers. “There’s something that people respond to in a human-sized sculpture. The experience is more visceral. I’m all about the feeling you get when you look at a sculpture, and an intense connection with that object, as opposed to the ideas behind a sculpture, or the context of the sculpture historically.” Fertman’s impeccable craftsmanship “is important, but only in service to the sculpture itself.