An Experience with Duncan Ford
February’s Artist of the Month
Dear Project Dispatch artists, friends, collectors, and patrons,
Initially, when I thought of how I’d format this blog post (the third and more perfect attempt at a monthly featured artist), I was going to start the scroll with Duncan’s pictures, but instead I think you should experience it as I did by reading his thoughts before viewing his new work. Let it build up. I read the first line in the fourth question 3 times just for the pleasure of it, but don’t skip to the end. His writing is wonderful.
Each time I see new work by Duncan, I think, “it’s just going to get better and better”. The last work I saw by Duncan was gifted to Chandi and Frank.
They have this piece hanging on a wall to memorialize their time spent in Outer Space. That wall is surprisingly sparse considering the hundreds of excellent works that floated though their space during that odyssey (I’m sure I would have an entire room dedicated to the experience). This says loads about their appreciation for Duncan’s work.
But I’ll get out of here so you can experience a taste of Duncan Ford’s spirit and art.
Why woodcut printmaking?
I need limitations to focus my creativity. Woodcut printmaking constricts the amount of visual complexity in each piece and forces me to simplify compositional and color choices or stretch these decisions over several blocks. This layering effect encourages experimentation and is important to my artistic process. I also want revelation as I work rather than the creation of art focusing on simply executing a fully formed idea. My printmaking process gradually lifts the visual fog of war, keeping me engaged as problems are continuously created and solved.
What do you like to read/study? What theme/subject has had the most influence on your work?
I enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, history, biographies, and classic literature. Most recently I read American Prometheus, a biography on Robert Oppenheimer. This book combined with visiting the Hirshhorn’s new exhibit “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950,” and liberal amounts of the post-apocalyptic video game Fallout 3 have flavored my artistic output recently. Anxiety, death and trying to be optimistic about the future are all concepts I am currently wrestling with in my work.
If you could meet any figure in History, who would it be?
I want to meet Robert Oppenheimer at a bar. He would be wearing a pork pie hat and sipping a gin martini. We could get sloshed and talk about Hindu mythology deep into the night.
What are you working on?
At the moment, I am working on a series about two distinct futures for the human species. In one scenario, the tide of humanity expands across the universe as we set up domed Gardens of Eden on other planets where we waste our infinite lives. In the other future, derelict space ships orbit rotting worlds after an extinction event. Contemplating these two scenarios has helped me respond to some of the books, art exhibits and video games I have recently experienced.
Have you made any discoveries in your practice as a result of becoming a member of Project Dispatch and making work for subscriptions?
Project Dispatch helps me experiment with conceptual and visual ideas before committing them to a larger work. The small size of the pieces has forced me to identify compositional devices that simplify my prints and make them more visually intelligible. This is especially important to me since I have a bad tendency to turn every piece I make into a congested Where’s Waldo? page that includes every idea I ever had.
If you could pick three artists from the Project to subscribe to, who would they be?
There are many exceptional artists involved with Project Dispatch, but if I had to choose only three they would be Jerome Skiscim, Dana Maier and Rachel England.
If you have any questions let me know. (Duncan Ford)