WACTAC is putting on an awesome workshop “Sculpture for Lightweights,” taught by local artist and sculptor Amy Toscani and open to all high school students. She has exhibited extensively since 1993, recently having a show at The Soap Factory. During the workshop, Amy will share her knowledge of welding, sewing, and playing light-weight steel to create sculptural objects. You’ll have the opportunity to check out the Walker galleries, flex your muscles on some stainless steel in Amy’s studio, and then exhibit your own sculpture in a final showcase.
We put Amy through the wringer before we deemed her worthy of reciting the WACTAC of Allegiance, and our in home stenographer was kind enough to give us a look at the transcripts:
What were you like in high school?
I was sort of obnoxious and immature, I’d say. I was actually sort of in the grade school stage in high school. You know, I was like pea-shooters and gum under desks. I wasn’t really artistic. I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist. Some of my family members were but I was more into music. You know I was in a marching band and then I went on to college and thought I was going to teach band music. Isn’t that funny? So, I was at the College of Fine Arts and I thought I wanted to go into radio television, in the production end of it, and then I started taking all these art classes. I went to see a counselor and I said, “I want to change out of fine arts into telecommunications.” And he said, and he said, “No, look at all these art classes you took!” I said, “well I can’t be an artist, I’m not good enough to be an artist!” and he said, “you don’t have to be good.” So, I took drawing, illustration, and sculpture for under grad and then it turned out I liked sculpture so much I mastered in it. But yeah, I was going to be a band director.
What do you want people to get out of your art?
Great question. I guess I want them to have a feeling of wonderment or explore potentials and possibilities and sort of mix up the reality. You know, it’s hard to surprise people in 2008, almost 2009, and then when you can surprise them and make them take notice of something, especially an object, I think that’s big. And I just love doing it. So, I guess I do it for myself more than anything but I do sort of want to the hair on the back of their neck to stand up.
If you were to create a sculpture that visually translated what goes on in your head, what would it look like?
It would be pretty haphazard, and some parts wouldn’t be finished, it might tip over. Someone told me—and I’m an Aries—”Aries are great at starting projects, they love to start projects” and I was like, “That’s right!” But then the follow-through is just like discipline, so I do a little here, I do a little there.
What is your favorite sculpture of all time?
I think it would have to be Lee Bontecou, any one of the early sixties, when she did canvas over these steel frames, and she’d sew them. It was all found objects because she lived above a Chinese laundry mat and they would throw out these conveyer belts, so she cut up the canvas and then stretched them on these frames and she’d sort of burn into them and they looked really industrial and yet biomorphic. I just love her work. And I love Martin Puryear, too. And Carsten Holler.
What are your favorite materials and why?
Steel, probably. Lightweight steel. First of all it’s very forgiving. So if you cut it too short, that’s alright, you just add a little section onto it and if you cut it too long, you cut it again. So it suits my personality and my way of working and I also love to sew. I like fabrics a lot. And I sort of use steel as fabric. It’s just this additive, manic process, and it looks homemade and I like that it shows the hand of the artist.
If you could have dinner with three people living or dead who would they be and why?
Ghandi, is one. I always aspire to be more zen (laughs). I was just reading abo ut Shirley Chisholm, I would like to have met her. There’s a documentary on her life called CHISHOLM ’72: Unbought and Unbroken …Who else, maybe Abe Lincoln or something. I live on Lincoln street (you know, Northeast has the streets named after presidents).
If you could design a senior prom, what would it look like?
It would be based on spaceships and rockets. There would be a lot of rope lights. And really good music. Like, you wouldn’t want to sit down, and you’d want to actually go, even if you didn’t have a date.
What advice could you give to teen artists?
I guess, keep on keeping on. Talent’s not even important—it’s one aspect. It’s perseverance, really. It’s a long distance race and somehow you have to make that process fit your life, because you’re not going to do it if it doesn’t. And you know, who succeeds in life? It’s the person who keeps trying. I think that’s more important than anything.
SO REMEMBER!!! Sign up for the sculpture workshop by January 16th. $30 dollars for Walker Members, $35 for non-members. Broke? Don’t worry about it, scholarships are available. To register contact Teen Programs at 612-375-7628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to see more of Amy check out her Soap Factory interview below.