David Sparks

Making a Way

Making A Way | Freedom
Artists: Ling-lin Ku, Jonathan Pellitteri, David Sparks, Torina Stark

David Sparks: On his work 1
David Sparks: On his work 2
David Sparks: How Coronavirus has affected his practice

My sculptural, figurative pieces offered the idea of hope amidst the struggle, and can further be described as metaphorical and ethereal. I have looked to Giacometti as an artist of influence. His elongated figures of Walking Man appeared to be very fragile, but the highly textural surface with its implied forward movement make his figure appear very strong. His humans reflect dignity and vulnerability at the same time. I am working with ideas like these as I create a new visual vocabulary for my new, expressive characters and creatures. How can I create layers of depth for a figurative piece and imply something about the characters personality, resilience or integrity? How could I best describe a human character with a heavy emotional load? There is also a certain piece of art created by English artist William Blake that helped in the conceptual development of my villainous pieces during this time. “Ghost of a Flea” completed in 1820, was an illustration of a flea like human, in which the human figure was used for emotional and moral effect. I attempted similar metaphorical ideas with the creatures in this body of work.

My current figurative works are highly textural, made with paper, twine, rubber latex and paper clay. My paper clay is made with paper pulp and a powdered adhesive which is made into a clay like material by adding water. Other materials that I use in my work include; burlap, wire, saw dust, sand and drywall compound. These materials offer spontaneity and gestural like effects that other sculpting materials can’t produce for me. I also like using lines that create movement in my work with bends and curves. These undulating lines are very pleasing to the eye, and I enjoy using them repeatedly within a single piece of art to create a sense of completeness for my forms. These lines are complimentary elements to the highly textural surfaces in my work. I use mostly warm, earthy tones for color, which allows the viewer to enjoy the beauty of the natural forms that I create. I want my subject matter to appear to be related to regions beyond this world. My figures are often engaged in some kind of struggle, and sometimes my figures appear to be in route to a better place. Overall, I want my works to convey the idea of hope.

While still in college at age 21, David had entered his first art fair in Oak Park, Illinois. His professional art career selling watercolor paintings on the streets had begun and continued around Chicago and Northwestern Indiana for several years. This experience allowed him to create and market sellable work, but the income did not permit him to make a living. His degree in art education allowed him to teach visual art, and that seemed to work as he supported his family.

He returned to college to pursue his MA in studio art at Ball State University. As a graduate assistant, he worked with classes in drawing, painting and art education. He worked in his studio space at Ball State and began to express his own “life journey” through large acrylic paintings. He did this by creating an anthropomorphic character named Quest to represent himself. This work was the first body of work that he created without selling art as his immediate goal. He was awarded a grant from Ball State University to create an art installation of a larger than life, polychrome sculptural environment using characters from these works. This installation was created to impact literacy in the school systems. It ended up being a big reason for pursuing more large sculptural works. He also created a new way of expressing himself that hovered between painting and sculpture and found the artist, Red Grooms and his “Stickouts” very inspirational.

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