The Josephy Center is honored to present Gianluca’s solo exhibit, “Gianluca Giarrizzo: Descent – Figurative Sculpture, Painting and Drawing“. Exhibit opens Friday, July 7 at 7 PM with an opening reception and will run through until August 2.
Gianluca Exhibit Interview
I grew up in Powell, Wyoming, and without realizing at the time, was inspired by the example of my father, a professor and painter. Drawing was a part of my childhood, and it always seemed that Santa just had a surplus of sketchbooks.
Even though art was a part of life, the realization of my passion for creating began when I was attending Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. I went to Lewis and Clark for a number of reasons: baseball, art, philosophy, and I was excited to experience a new city and culture.
Sculpture became something that captivated me right away, and my professor Mike Rathbun was an incredible mentor, among all the wonderful professors I had. Towards the end of college, I studied drawing in Rome for a summer semester. Drawing from the masters every day was simply incredible, and took my appreciation and interest in the figurative tradition of sculpture to a different place of conviction.
After graduating, I spent the summer working at Coleco Foundry in Cody, Wyoming, where I learned to take sculpture through the full bronze process. This was a powerful experience that gave me a window into the collaborative efforts and behind-the-scenes of bronze, as well as a new appreciation for the medium. I apprenticed for sculptor Gerald Shippen during this time as well. He is a remarkable figurative sculptor, and was/is a constant inspiration through his work and teaching. In addition to bronze, stone carving became a process I wanted to develop further. The excitement through struggle I find during the search for form and gesture in this medium is undefinable.
After the summer following my undergraduate degree, I went to New York City to start a visual art program at The East Harlem School, an independent private school for grades 4-8. Teaching art in East Harlem has made me question race, motivations, gender, interests, and society’s preconceived notions in ways I’ve never had to. To observe a child learn to draw, learn to see, constantly reminds me of the power of art – to see things for what they are, expose beauty, offer perspectives on life, and give power to the human experience.
Given the teaching schedule, I have spent the past few summers pursuing my own work at a studio space in Lostine, Oregon, generously offered by Peter Ferre.
In order to put full attention into my own learning, this coming year I will be attending the New York Academy of Art for sculpture. Dedicating myself to my own work and teaching are two things I plan to continue following this program. These two processes have been linked through history, and I consider education through art to be an incredibly valuable component of the human condition, regardless of a student’s interest in pursuing art as a career.
My day to day life in art exists in my sketchbook. Sculpture is drawing, drawing is sculpture. The sketchbook is where knowledge of form and gesture become part of an instinctive thought process. Every chance I get, I find myself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, doing everything I can to appreciate the work set before us.