Print is just one component of the intrigue that is James Weingrod’s portfolio.
Artist James Weingrod has been awed by the idea of the universe ever since his insomniac childhood. His father, who loved space, would read him science books when he couldn’t sleep, but the puzzle of an infinite outer space bred more intrigue than it did rest. His curiosity stuck with him as he went off to Brown University, then Hunter College, and grew into an artist; he’d be the first to tell you his work is more filled with questions than it is answers.
“A lot of my work focuses on the universe, but also on how people try to think about the universe or understand the universe – and they can’t,” he says.
The same curiosity has led Weingrod to experiment with a number of different processes, from using found objects as canvas to changing the chemistry of his paints to employing screen and digital printing. Many of his pieces combine a number of techniques; “the universe is this unknown, infinite thing,” he says, “so it seems like trying to represent that in as many different mediums as you can would be appropriate.”
One such installation was set in Miami when Weingrod was a resident at the National YoungArts Foundation. Entitled “Sunk,” the piece took over a service window in the YoungArts headquarters. Weingrod screen printed onto Plexiglas so that the only transparent areas were tiny stars; LEDs on the windowsill shined through the pattern and cast light and shadows throughout the work.
And it’s clear the artist loves to toy with irony: “Just the idea of trying to make something that’s a representation of something that’s infinite and then stick it inside of this finite space always tickles me.” Another piece, “The Clockwork Universe,” ties lights, paint, and mirrors together within a grandfather clock, creating the illusion that an infinite number of pendulums are swinging back and forth inside.
One of his favorite techniques is to take the raw ingredients used to make paint and create dripped patterns on a horizontal panel of wood or aluminum – and no, this isn’t something a six-year-old would create in an after-school art program. Weingrod says he’s been studying the chemistry and physics of paint for years to understand how gravity and surface tension will affect the different chemical combinations.
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