Emil Alzamora was born in Lima, Peru 1975 and raised in Boca Grande, Florida. Alzamora started his sculpting career in the Hudson Valley working with Polich Art Works in the fall of 1998. Since his departure from P.A.W. in early 2001, he has produeced his work full-time and shown regularly through-out the United States and Europe. He currently lives in Beacon, NY.
Where did you study and when did you expose your work for the first time?
I studied at Florida State University where I graduated with a BFA in 1998. They have a fantastic sculpture program where I learned many of the fundamentals of casting and moldmaking. As part of the program I had a 300 square foot studio space in a warehouse with about 30 other art students where I was pretty much left to my own devices conceptually. They had a hands off approach as long as you were working and committed. After graduation, I worked with a leading art foundry in upstate New York (Polich Tallix) for 2.5 years. This was a boot camp of sorts where I really galvanized my skills and techniques. The first formal exhibition of my work was in Peekskill, NY at Coulter Young Gallery in 2002. To my amazement, it was reviewed in the New York Times.
I was surrounded by artmaking, both painting and sculpture, by my mother, aunt and grandmother who really appreciated and admired seeing art and frequently forced my brother and I to visit every museum possible. At the time all I wanted to do was play with clay, or read and draw comics, from Tin Tin to Spiderman. This being the kid version of what my family was doing. As I began to think about going to university medical illustration seemed to be an adequate form of rebellion. While in school however, the art program and the Art History classes really sparked up an interest in sculpture and fine arts. I began to understand what my family had been encouraging.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Could you describe us the process from the moment you decide to create a new work?
Inspiration is a complicated animal. I think the best way to decribe it would be by saying anything and everything. I always have my eyes open, whether it is looking at a dog, or walking through the natural history museum. I love to listen to music as it can be very visual. Movies are great, books and audiobooks too. The internet is fantastic, I love the TED talks. The occaisional visit to an art gallery. There is really too much out there to be inspired by, so it is more a matter of how do you filter everything down to something manageable. In the end I am one person and I don’t have assistants so I have to make some critical decisions as to where I end up putting my energy. I draw all the time. Its a great way to sort through all of the info and blend it and stir it up into who knows what. I really don’t like to dictate what I draw, its a very subconscious process. Most sculptures start as a sketch, one of thousands. If a sketch hits me I’ll consider it for a sculpture.
I work with a number of materials: plaster, slip cast ceramic, cast bronze, steel, glass, wood, resins. I really enjoy plaster as a sculpting material and often as an end in itself. Ceramic offers a range of surfaces. Bronze is immensely satisfying. Resins are very versatile. Often times the material is determened by the idea. I like for there to be a strong relationship between the concept and the material.
Human shape is present and usually “deformed” in your work. Would you to like to tell us a few words about it?
I have always loved the human form. From the action heroes in comic books to the classical and ancient sculptures of Itlay, Greece, and Egypt up through the Rennaisance and the Baroque to the Neo-classical and Rodin and some contemporary sculptors as well. I think I am drawn to it because of its big place in history and in our own daily lives. We all have a form we inhabit and it is a very easy laguage to communicate with. I often distort the figures to emphasize an idea or to tell a narrative of sorts as well as the technical challenges it presents. I have always felt it important to be able to present work that is accessible not just to art historians and critics but to everyone. For me it is important to feel like I am making a link with a human audience. I am repulsed by art that is an obvious reaction to other art and in turn detached from the real world most of us live in.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I think being an artist is a loaded thing. It has many stigmas and associations that come with it, both good and bad for many obvious reasons. As an exapmle- In a recent town hall meeting, a Beacon resident said in protest to a recycling plant coming to town “What do we want to be known for Prisons, Dumps and… Artists?” to much laughter in the hall. My approach is one of sevice and hark work. I enjoy the challenges it presents in both personal growth and in expanding the business through establishing new realtions with galleries.I don’t like to talk about my art or about my experiences unless someone asks and expresses an iterest in it.I wake up early and work pretty much all day. It is unglamorous and actually embarrassing (if you saw my working conditions). I am uncomfortable and dirty for much the day and tired at the end of it. I enjoy a cold one at night by the wood stove with my family and two sausage dogs.
What are your future plans?
I would like to rebuild the studio. It is way too small for the amount of work I am doing there now. I like the course I am on for the time being. Living near New York City is great. I have a great gallery there now in the Lower East Side (Krause Gallery). The proximity makes it easy to attend and show in the fairs that come through each spring. At some point I’d like to have more public work and possibly be represented in museums. Someday my girlfriend and I would like to move to a warmer climate as neither of us are that fond of sub zero weather and many feet of snow, not that that has anything to do with retiring. I want to be working on “the best sculpture I’ve ever made” when I’m 97.
Artbreak Gallery. Brooklyn, NY. "Random Mutations That Work" Jan 2010
Krause Gallery. Atlanta, GA. "New Works" Feb 2009
Lanoue Fine Art. Boston, MA. "Superluminous" Nov 2008
Krause Gallery. Atlanta, GA. "New Works" April 2008
Mack B Gallery. Sarasota, FL. "Mettle" March 2007
Karin Sanders Fine Art. Sag Harbor, NY. "Sculptures in Gypsum and Bronze" Jul 2006
Yellow Bird Gallery. "Covalence" Newburgh, NY. Jan-Mar 2006
Coulter Young Gallery. Peekskill, NY. "Unipolarity" Apr 2003
Anita Hart Balter Gallery. Garrison, NY. "Recent Works" Sept 2002
Coulter Young Gallery. Peekskill, NY. "Defragmentation" Mar 2002