I kept seeing these parts of cars, and for me they were dark and black. I started collecting them.
—John Erkel, artist
Winnipeg artist and designer, John Erkel, spends a considerable amount of time picking up garbage. He then takes the material he finds on the street and works it into his compositions.
His latest exhibit, IN/ORganic, finds his industrial work paired alongside more organic pieces by Deborah Dannelley. SCENE asked Erkel to share the process behind his abstract assemblage pieces:
I fell in love with what I call 'road kill.' I live on my bicycle. I kept seeing these parts of cars, and for me they were dark and black. I started collecting them. I'm the garbage man. I search, daily.
Artist John Erkel at work in his studio. (John Erkel)
I depend on urbanism. Urbanism sheds the material. I would not be an artist in my capacity if I didn't.
I had a show in Italy, and I took full advantage of the fact that I lived 25 minutes from downtown Milano. There was an incredible amount of machine shops and junk in people's backyards. I began creating cardboard models, scavenging the cardboard out of the garbage.
The series I did in Italy was very hard edged, they were bent and folded 3-D sculptures. Some I left raw. In Italy, they do a patina; they clean the raw steel, then they mix something like an oil-based tar, which is rubbed onto the steel. You end up with a matte finish with a very slight glow to it.
I love void, I love black. I fell in love with black images. I could never get rid of them; they became a permanent fixture in my mind. They kept pulling me in.
I love working with my hands. I see something on the road and I think 'that's something!' Sometimes I go to job sites and I look at the ground, I see all the waste. I take 2x4's and lay out the sections that I like until it is totally framed.
Then I photograph that section, all the various 'madnesses' pounded into the ground.IN/ORganic features work by John Erkel and Deborah Dannelley and opens at Gurevich Fine Art May 3rd, at 7 p.m. The show runs until May 25th.