My work is created without pretense or agenda, but instead with a sincerity of form, material, and surface. I enjoy flirting with the awkward and unexpected, and experimenting with the extremes of scale and proportion. I welcome balance that can be achieved by combining the slender to the stout, the body with the appendage. October's show will be comprised of a cross section of recent work; a collection of sculptures in different sizes, materials, and dispositions. At the core, will be a collection of simple, vertical, human sized sculptures. These pieces are a continuation of my evolving aesthetic, my interest in refined form, and a particular interest in how sculpture relates with the human body.
By Olivia Smith
David Borgerding takes some of his inspiration from one of nature’s most ideal marriages of form and function. Bones, he says, “are just big enough for what they’re intended to do. They’re the perfect structure.”
Similarly, in crafting his abstract metal sculptures from slender sheets of aluminum, stainless steel and bronze, he pushes to see how thin he can make an element of his design and still have it support what it needs to support. His predilection for walking this fine line with proportion—”the thin to the fat” as he puts it—gives his sculptures a sense of precariousness, of being in balance and off balance at the same time, that brings them to life.
“Kurkau,” for example, a round, seed-like shape that resembles both a piglet and a rabbit, seems to be simultaneously running forward and about to take flight, with three long, slender wings, or perhaps ears, streaming behind and above it.
Thanks to what he describes as his “work-aholic” Midwestern upbringing in Grand Rapids, Mich., Borgerding began working at a fabrication shop, where he learned to weld at age 14. That experience combined with an early and persistent interest in art lead him to major in sculpture. In Savannah College of Art and Design’s graduate degree program, he focused on furniture design, primarily creating one-of-a-kind pieces. “I flip-flop between them,” he says of sculpture versus furniture, adding that he works with the same organic shapes in each. The furniture “just happens to be functional.
And sometimes, when you throw in that element, it’s even more challenging, because there are more constraints.” To help support his artistic pursuits, Borgerding does decorative ironwork on the side, using the same studio and many of the same tools for all three disciplines.
Borgerding leaves the metal in his sculptures unadorned, with grinding marks showing. “There’s no hidden anything,” he says. Being true to the materials puts the focus on the form. “They’re just shapes,” he says. “They’re honest shapes. They move me, and I hope they move others.”
Borgerding and his then fiancée, artist and jewelry designer Shannon Mathas (who has since changed her name to GoGo), evacuated from Hurricane Katrina in a pickup truck with two colleagues and a veritable Noah’s ark of animals—at least four dogs, a cat, a goat, and some chickens. “It was quite an ordeal for sure,” Borgerding says. The couple returned to New Orleans on Oct. 1, which was supposed to have been their wedding day. (A few months later they eloped in Costa Rica.) Their home suffered wind damage but no flooding, and Borgerding’s studio, a few blocks away, even had power when they arrived back.
Borgerding’s skills in ironwork and welding have been in high demand ever since the storm. “When we got home and saw how much work there was, and that it wasn’t going to be a problem to make a living, [staying] was pretty much a no brainer,” Borgerding says. “We just hit the ground running.”
Despite the influx of steady money making work, Katrina also inspired Borgerding to devote time to his art. “It’s made it even more apparent that’s what I need to be doing,” he says. He has been working on the first two pieces of a series of eight for a show this December at Soren Christensen gallery. It will be his first New Orleans show in several years. (Borgerding also shows work at Karen Lynne Gallery in Boca Raton, Fla.)
The pair of sculptures differs slightly from his previous work in scale (they are both 12 to 14 feet long) and in its preoccupation with opposites: one of the two is softer and rounder, while its companion, as described by Borgerding, is sharper and more angular than his usual work. When pressed to consider broader changes in his sculptures since Katrina, he concludes, “I’m playing more with the idea of motion and gesture … They’re more aggressive, more dynamic, they’ve got more action to them, more intensity.”
The latter statement could also be applied to New Orleans’ artistic community, based on Borgerding’s observations. “People are still making art,” he says. “They just have to do it. I think it’s a good sign that the city is reviving.” —By Olivia Smith
International Matex Inc. - Thomas Coleman, St. Rose, LA
Jefferson Parish Public Library, Jefferson Parish, LA
Loyola University, New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Children’s Museum, New Orleans, LA
2011 “Foml” for Doug and Maria Devos, Grand Rapids, MI
2011 “Pangatam” for International Matex Inc. - Thomas Coleman, St. Rose, LA
2010 “Waduwach” for The Jefferson Parish Public Library, Jefferson Parish, LA
2009 “Sculptural Benches”, for Loyola University, New Orleans, LA
2009 “Katrina Commemorative Sculptural Bench” for Loyola University, class of 2009 New Orleans, LA