Briefly describe the work you do.
I make nontraditional sculpture. Most of my sculptures resemble familiar childhood objects (like stuffed animals/pillows) and genitalia. I’m interested in perception and how our minds process information, react and respond to new experiences. For this reason, the usage of soft materials is an important element in my work; I like using soft fabrics that are intimately familiar to people, as a way of disarming their social weight and allowing the public to physically interact with the sculptures.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota and one of the experiences I’ll never forget (as a young adult) is meeting a deaf person for the first time—he moved his hands fast to communicate, I was amazed he could lip read! His body language and expression were impressionable. Thereafter, I decided to learn American Sign Language and spent time studying subtle body language. Today, I work with photography and subconsciously I’m using some of the information I learned back then to capture body language and movement in my work.
In 2010, I had been living with my wife in Santiago for a couple of years, when I found out she was pregnant with our first born, I realized at that very moment how overwhelmingly big my own sexual organ had become. Afterwards, I created a larger than life-size penis and vagina to express my experience and visually preserve its importance.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My concept of studio space has change throughout my art history. When I first finished grad school, I had a hard time relating as an artist without a formal studio space. Later on, I found myself making work anywhere I could find space—kind of like a nomad. Today, I’m making art that doesn’t always require a studio or should I say the work itself is its own studio space.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Director. Photographer. Writer. Organizer. Speaker. Needle worker. International Artist.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time every day or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I like making art during daylight hours and I usually set aside time to work but it really depends on what I’m working on and where I’m particularly at in my process.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Since then, I’ve expanded upon my art practice by allowing myself to explore new ideas within different mediums and create new sculpture. My new sculpture is heading in a different direction; I see it more as installation art and photographic illustration than sculpture itself. There are some things in my work that haven’t changed for instance, I still use soft materials to make genitalia.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My grandmother would be a person who has had an impact on my work. Growing up she and her sisters would have their prized sewing possessions out fixing some old shirts or hemming a pair of slacks for my grandfather. At the time, I was just a kid—curiously rummaging through her cookie tins looking for old relics and sewing paraphernalia. I could have cared less about sewing. 20 years later, I was without a studio and had little to no money and I remembered my grandmother had everything I needed to sew. Sometimes, everything we need is right in front of us and all we have to do is embrace it—that’s how my soft sculptures were created.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Yes, I’ve spent a couple of years away from making art to remodel an old colonial style home from the turn of the century; it’s where my family and I live now. I’m not sure I would do it for a living unless it was absolutely necessary. My other interests are riding motorcycles and playing music (I’m a drummer).
Robert Gorman was born in 1976 in Houston, Texas. In 2003 he received his BS in Sociology at Northwest Missouri State University and, then in 2006 he received his MA in Sculpture at Fontbonne University. Gorman lives and works in Santiago, Chile; where he has been involved in various important exhibitions including, a solo show untitled “Pillow Forms are Safe to Touch” at La Biblioteca de Santiago (The Santiago Library) and group show entitled “Laberintos de Amor y Erotismo” at the Casona Nemesio Antúnez Corporación Cultural de La Reina. Gorman has also been invited to present his artwork at several universities in Chile.
Gorman was honored with an academic award for his work on sustainable art practices from the Universidad del Desarrollo, which later became a core class in their curriculum entitled “La práctica de Arte”. He is currently working on a photography project entitled “Body Movement and Communication” (BM&C).
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.