Eye for the Unusual
river debris to create eclectic artwork
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (June 2010) Artist Al Gorman
is concerned with caring for the environment. Through his artwork, he
strives to interpret feelings and a sense of place using natural objects
that are not ordinarily thought of as artistic materials.
Al Gorman crafts fanciful
creatures out of river debris such as
driftwood, Styrofoam, shells and coal.
Gorman has collected discarded trash and debris from the
Falls of the Ohio area for the last seven years. He even started his
own blog about this project titled, Artist At Exit 0, Riverblog,
where he posts his river art and images from the Falls area.
With the debris he crafts fanciful creatures out of Styrofoam, driftwood,
bone, mussel shells, coal, aluminum and a variety of other media found
along the river environment.
His goal is to create a collaboration with the river, said
Gorman, 52. He can often be found strolling along the river bank with
nothing more than a pocketknife, collecting bag, camera and his imagination.
Most of the time when I make a sculpture, I leave it at the river,
he said. The largest one measured more than 12 feet tall, and most sculptures
left behind eventually disappear or wash away. He feels his sculptures
relate to life in a very direct way.
Ten of his river sculptures and six large digital prints are featured
in a display at the Oldham County History Center in La Grange in conjunction
with the Life at the Rivers Edge exhibit. Accompanying his work
is a display of multimedia art pieces local individuals have contributed
for a multimedia art contest. The Rivers Edge Exhibit runs through
Aug. 1 and also displays the folksy artwork of local Westport artist
by Helen E. McKinney
Gormans Styro Buffalo at the
Falls of the Ohio is on display at
the Oldham County History Center.
Gormans work adds to our theme Life
at the Rivers Edge where we explore the Ohio River as an
important cultural and natural resource to our county, said Nancy
Theiss, Executive Director of the Oldham County History Center. An opening
reception for Gormans exhibit was held May 6.
The statement of his sculptures implies several things,
said Theiss. While his sculptures are whimsical and funny, the
underlying message demonstrates that many people do not respect the
heritage and importance that the river holds as an ecological-sensitive
resource that sustains and benefits our health and well being.
My work deals with a material culture viewed in a different context,
said Gorman, who has lived in Louisville for more than 20 years. He
has had formal training as a artist, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree
from Murray State University, and both a Masters and Associate
in Science degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Gorman chose to focus on sculpture because of its three-dimensional
aspect. You have to walk around my work to enjoy it fully,
In addition to being an artist, Gorman has also been a curator, juror
and writer. For the past year, Gorman has been the Director of Studio
Arts for the Zoom Group, a program that provides services to individuals
with mental and developmental disabilities who wish to further their
visual arts skills.
Gorman said Theiss has done a great job of assembling work
from the Ohio River region. She has put together a compelling
exhibit, he said. The exhibit contains a Living Stream Touch Table
that is similar to an aquarium with creatures one would find in the
local fresh water environment.
Theiss discovered Gormans artwork several years ago through a
newspaper article. When you view Gormans work, it shows
great creativity and imagination. She said the work of a good
artist provides the viewer retrospective about the piece that
is viewed and the message that underlies that art.
In Gormans case, You feel his love of the river ecosystem
and his subtle scorn of peoples disregard for the ecosystem by
using the river as a garbage receptacle, said Theiss.
Most of Al Gormans river sculptures are for sale. His Riverblog
can be viewed at http://ArtistsAtExit0.wordpress.com.
The Oldham County History Center is located
at 106 N. Second Ave., La Grange. For information, call (502) 0826.
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