Derek Weidman
Animal Figures

Turn a multi-axis animal (two part demo)- This symposium has allowed for a special opportunity that I have not been able to do in any other demo. By scheduling two demos back to back, as well as supplying the model lathe I trust the most as it is what I use in my home studio, a full-size sculpture from my animal series will be made instead of a scaled down version. This means way more eccentric and way more dramatic turning. The audience can pick any animal they can think of as I usually allow in my demos, but I will spend a bit of time walking through various options, going over multiple designs and showing why and how I pick subjects for my more serious sculptures.

There will be an emphasis on planning and design in this first session. The first half will of the form will be shaped and the fine-tuning will be reserved for the second half. As for processes, and tools, there is a brief but thorough explanation for safe practices, in even the most extreme of lathe based circumstances, and likewise a crash course in grinds and tools that are appropriate for interrupted cutting. That said the demo focuses heavily on thinking differently, with an emphasis on thinking about the particular way the lathe cuts, and designing within that particular circular language of shape.

In part two, there will be resolution of the sculpture, first with a completion of the turning and then walking through various other carving implements, from chainsaws to rotary carvers to angle grinders. It is the contemporary wood artists chisel set so to speak, each plugging into an outlet and all serving different purposes. This demo again steers somewhat away from my normal shtick, and instead transports you into my studio, pulling open the blinds to reveal a truer view of my creative process. 

Derek Weidman was born in 1982, and has dedicated the last seven years to exploring lathe-based sculpture.  His approach involves multi-axis turning as the foundation of his work.  By using the unique shaping processes of turning, Derek has created a descriptive visual language that only the lathe can speak.  This carving process creates novel representations of a wide range of subjects, from those based on human anatomy to various animal forms.  Derek works from a basic question, “What would this look like if rendered through the lens of a wood lathe?,” and even with the most rigorous naturalism, an honest abstraction takes place, and for each new subject that question gets answered. So from human heads to rhinos, mandrills to birds, each idea being captured in a way it has not been expressed before.

As an avid animal lover with deep connections to nature Weidman also volunteers as a wildlife rehabber, gaining an enormous amount of inspiration from working so closely with local fauna.This connection is the spirit of the techniques of Weidman as he feels art cannot exist in the process alone. So when taking care of injured or orphaned animals it fosters in him a kindred feeling with other species as well as acting directly from a place of compassion. We live in a time in human history where compassion is needed for the tasks and trials we face as a species as well as a collective of species from Earth. Man's goals often put other creatures in danger in multiple ways, from habitat loss to being over-harvested for food, or any myriad of other stresses and strains that often enough lead up to total extinction. In fact some scientists like to call this time the Anthropocene, Earth's epoch tied to modern humanity, and it is worth mentioning that there is a global extinction event associated with this. This tension is manifest in Weidman's work and process where the organic meets the industrial, wood to metal, nature to machines, that speaks appropriately of our place as humans on the Earth and trying to find a suitable way to coexist harmoniously with nature, while still progressing as a species.