Donor Wheel Joshua Kirsch
More than 2,000 donors are acknowledged in this one-of-a-kind sculpture by Joshua Kirsch
The Arts Council commissioned New Jersey artist Joshua Kirsch to create a wall sculpture as an acknowledgment of the more than 2,000 donors to the Campaign to Build the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts. The spectacular interactive wall sculpture features a six foot diameter disk with all donor names in alphabetical order. Visitors may select a section of names to view by using a key pad. When a letter is selected, the sculpture rotates to center the alpha section, which is illuminated.
Interview with Joshua Kirsch
The Arts Council sat down to talk to Joshua Kirsch about his art and the Arts Council’s new donor sculpture:
How would you describe the work you do?
I like to describe my work as sculpture for the sake of sculpture. With this in mind, I aim to create art that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also engaging and captivating. I always pour tons of attention into the details. It is very important to me that my art appear just as accomplished when viewed up close (if not more so) as when viewed from afar. I’m fascinated by little screws and wires and I love to showcase these materials in my work. Everything is out in the open for the viewer to see and nothing, not even the electronic circuitry, is ever hidden from view. Instead, it is treated as sculptural medium and given the same thought and attention as the rest of the sculpture. There is very often an interactive aspect that is central to my work. I like to think there is never a velvet rope that separates my art from the viewer. Instead, he or she is invited to touch the sculpture, to look at it up close, and to change and manipulate it in whichever way he or she seems fit. Therefore it is not simply a product of my own artistic expression, but a manifestation of the relationship between the sculpture and the viewer. It’s that interactivity that ultimately allows my work to achieve its full potential.
What inspired the circular design of the donor wheel?
The design for this sculpture came about as a creative solution to two questions: One, how can we display a large number of donor names in a small space while giving equal consideration to the placement of each name? And two, how do we set this donor wall apart and treat it more as a unique piece of sculpture than just a standard list? I tried to address these questions when planning the ACP donor sculpture. The work’s rotating circular design literally gives each contributor an equal amount of time in the spotlight while showcasing each and every name with modern materials and white light. Ultimately, however, I’d say I chose the circular design because I like circles. For me, there is no more pleasing geometric shape than a circle and I use circles and circular motion in just about everything I make.
Why do you incorporate so much elaborate technology in your sculpture?
I like to create the kind of art that I would find striking if I saw it somewhere. If a piece of art catches my eye, chances are it will either be kinetic or electronic in some way or another. That is why I like to incorporate those concepts into my own work. Although my art may seem to be quite technologically sophisticated, it is actually relatively uninvolved compared to some of the other stuff that’s out there. I generally like to take some of the simplest of circuitry (LED’s, capacitors, resistors, etc.) and utilize it in such a way that it appears intricate and beautiful. Although technology definitely plays a pivotal role in my art, my real passion lies with the construction and fabrication… What’s the best way to attach this piece of plastic to this piece of aluminum? What size screw will I use? If I use this type of spring here, will that apply the right amount of tension? These are the questions that get me really excited.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’d say that I’m inspired by objects and materials more than anything else. A simple glass reed switch was the inspiration for an entire sculpture series and over two and a half years of work, that is still ongoing. A couple of years ago I dropped a piece of wood on a concrete floor and it produced a clear resonant tone. I was immediately inspired to create a musical sculpture that incorporated this idea. This is actually the direction I see myself going in next. I want to create interactive sculptures that are not only beautiful, but functional, too, so that you can actually play them like you would a musical instrument. I feel that this idea will create an even deeper relationship between sculpture and viewer, allowing him or her to create his or her own music with my art.
Any memorable experiences with the Arts Council?
So far, everything’s been going pretty smoothly. It’s been really exciting working with the Arts Council on this project, developing ideas and solving problems, pushing towards a final product that we’re all fired up about. Above all, I am very grateful to have the opportunity to create this unique work of art for the Arts Council and to be given the chance to bring my vision and talent to such a cool project. When completed, I believe the sculpture will be an elegant and captivating piece of art that will proudly showcase all those who made possible the construction of the new Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, and the advancement of Princeton’s artistic community, which I am very happy to be a part of.
Joshua Kirsch is a sculptor who works primarily in electronic components.