3 Questions Digital Series

Tom Fruin

An interview from Art in Embassies 3 Questions Digital Series with Tom Fruin, who speaks about his creative process and artwork at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Ankara, Turkey.

Read more about the Artist

Full Transcript

Hi I’m Tom Fruin I’m a artist I make sculptures usually from you know materials that are around me or that are everywhere i have always been a maker forever i guess uh even you know i still hold a pencil wrong with my thumb like over the top because i was drawing before anyone taught me how to write or hold a pencil so i like to use things that are found because they’re they’re just there and often i can feel they have an energy and i’ll just keep them around before i even know what i’m going to do with them and then when i have a bunch i realize i have some fixation on this material for some reason and i’ll start kind of just sort of studying it and thinking about like well if i added it this way or that way would it you know make something greater when it was whole and that’s something that i can’t really help i don’t know if it’s a magpie quality where i’m just gathering things and arranging them in my nest or or what but that’s why i like to use uh materials they’re just free they talk about humanity there’s something rich about them

i’ve always been sort of attracted to the infrastructural parts of living i mean i’ve always lived in a city personally so things like trees and you know shrubs or not like calling my attention immediately different things that like railings or window bars like they’re all kind of fascinating and they’re always very different and i’ve noticed when i travel you know window bars are not the same in new york city as they are in israel which you know i don’t know if that’s a great example but i i am just always sort of looking at my surroundings and i’m most interested in uh you know what it sort of is indicative about the people that are there and it’s just interesting to me how things can be driven by concerns other than purely aesthetic so so those are things i’m looking at you know water tanks on rooftops or even air conditioning units or different things that just by necessity are the remnants of our of our humanity i’m making sort of prototypical forms a house a water tower a billboard a smokestack something like that so i’m just trying to like reduce things to their essence and almost make it a an iconography like if there’s a water tower picture in your mind that’s what i want the sculpture to look like just a very typical uh art archetypal almost form and then i do everything in-house it’s all welded it’s uh like the since it’s plexiglass and not actual glass i can it’s not only is it plentiful like at sign shops or or the streets or or just off cuts but i can cut it on a chop saw i weld it here in the studio and uh and it’s it’s just it’s all very handmade it’s a handmade process

i’m interested in psychology and i’m interested in people and i’m interested in seeing what i can learn about people through you know uh through what i can observe and i would love for people to to just have a sort of renewed enthusiasm for their surroundings i mean i’m hoping that there’s uh i mean it’s not transformative but i feel like in the fact that i’m trying to transform things that are somewhat mundane that they can almost have the same experience that i’m having with seeing these things because i’m very excited to see different railings or whatever i’m just hoping that people are enjoying their experiences outside and thinking about life i mean ultimately i i also think that it’s an expression of everyone else and that we’re all kind of in this together and and you know the idea of sort of quilting or taking disparate parts to bring them together it’s almost like we’re all an amalgam of everything around us and at least that’s what i’m seeing today with what i’m doing it’s all it’s some sort of you know sampling like a hip-hop or something of taking bits of what’s around me and mixing it up and then spitting it back out and hoping that it’s has some similar experience for the people that see it