Erick Armbrust may be well-recognized among Guilford students for his coffee-making abilities that are often on display at the Greenleaf, but his passion and talents lie chiefly in the art of sculpture.
Erick is from Warwick, Rhode Island, where his art professor mother and creatively inclined father incorporated artistic expression into their everyday lives. He remembers experiencing compulsions to “make things” as young as age seven, describing childhood memories of assembling stick forts and snow structures with his siblings.
Thus, when he came to Guilford, he knew art was would be a pursuit he would follow his whole life. However, wanting to appease his parents and ensure his own financial security, he was not certain art would his major. He enrolled and succeeded in Sculpture and the Environment his second semester of his freshman year without any of the prerequisites, though, and henceforth convinced his parents (and himself) that sculpture was something he could make applicable to today’s society.
Erick is now a Bachelor of Fine Arts (distinguishable from the Bachelor of Arts degree by about forty academic credits) candidate. Though his ideas and perceptions of his thesis project are constantly changing, one of its main themes is storytelling: “I’m interested in exploring forms an materials that carry a kind of underlying narrative, but that will almost certainly change the more I work.”
Working on his thesis is unlike any other practice of art-making he has yet to be involved with. He says his summer independent study helped him become more accustomed to self-directed studio time, but that his current thesis endeavors are begetting a new-found feeling of ownership of his work as well as a sense of urgency “that isn’t necessarily tied to any deadline.”
Though the excitement and momentum Erick is building around his thesis are making it somewhat difficult for him to focus on additional academic interests, he says his other classes are starting to inform his art work. He is enrolled in 2D design, Photography, and a biology course, and they are all giving him new language and perspectives to describe and comprehend his ideas.
Erick’s thesis is currently comprised of three distinct groups. His “landmark” pieces emphasize form and are rendered in a large, monumental scale. His “artifact” works are small and more narrative-based. His “body” pieces are a hybridization of the two aforementioned series, and they juxtapose “visceral, organic materials” with post-industrial, manufactured elements.
Some of his sculptor influences include Joseph Beuys, Martin Puryear, and the sculpture collaboration Eighth Day. He is also excited about photographer Sally Mann. Erick gets inspiration from talking to people about their practices of making non-visual art, as well, and draws insight from some of his friends who are making music (specifically recent Guilford graduate Becca Nicholson).
Erick wants to encourage people to “get nerdy about art, to talk about their own art, to talk about their friends’ art, also to visit Hildebrandt.” For those who don’t know, Hildebrandt is the brick house on Dolly Madison near the Hodgins Apartment Complex; it houses the thesis students’ studios.
Erick also maintains an art blog and likes to keep the Guilford community informed about artistic happenings. In fact, he will be giving a presentation at 2:00 p.m. in the gallery in Hege Library tomorrow for the Guilford College Art Appreciation Club. It will surely be a success, as will his continuing thesis work.