Artist Spotlight: Gita Ghei

For many of us, a blob of Play Doh was our first sculpture medium.  Whether it was made from scratch or fresh from the can, that blob set creativity into motion as we’d stretch, roll, fold and mold until we had a tiny figure.  With today being National Play Doh day, we decided to take a look at other forms of sculpture with COMPAS artist Gita Ghei.

* What's your art form?

Sculpture. I use sheet metal, molds and casting to create them.  I include collage, often incorporating sunlight, shadow play or solar electric power. I also use mixed media of ephemeral and found natural materials in addition to cast and fabricated metal. My work is often determined by site requirements but if I'm on my own I like to use biodegradable materials such as plants.

* Do you remember how you first became interested in the arts?

In high school I learned to cast slip clay in a plaster mold, to solder pewter, and etching and aquatint. I was attracted by in depth art processes where there is always more to learn.  I learned all those processes in my public high school in Oshkosh Wisconsin, in addition to architectural drawing classes.

Slip clay is a method of pouring liquid clay into a plaster mold and allowing it to shrink away and be taken out to fire. I made a cast of my friend's arm. We fabricated small decorative boxes in pewter and learned enameling and making hinges in addition to soldering. The etching/aquatint process of printing is an involved process of coating metal plates with an oil based ground layer and drawing into it and then using acid on those areas to create the space on the plate to hold the ink. Aquatint is further using a textured ground to create shadows on the print. All these processes are at play in my current and methods and materials pallet. I utilize plaster molding regularly for casting metal and also the ephemeral materials of soap, wax and sugar into a variety of molds. I think the metal plates and pewter work inspired me into metal work and welding.

* Will you share a piece of advice for aspiring sculptors or visual artists in general?

Remember that in the arts being unique and being yourself are part of the task, there is a place for everyone in the arts.

* How does teaching your craft to youth affect your own art?

I am always inspired to see and hear how others behold the world, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Young people are fresh and know things without over thinking, and this gives adults pause.

* By the end of a week with you, what are 3 things you hope most students have learned? 

How to have a relationship with their materials; that materials have specific tools and information associated with them.
That art making is fun and open to countless possibilities.
That art can happen anywhere.

* What does being a COMPAS artist mean to you?

That I can be a part of, share with, and learn from my arts community. That the energy in our community serves to inspire others in their art making.

* Why do you think arts education is needed in our community?

Humans everywhere are artistic beings that need to express themselves beyond the known and seen.  Art takes people to spiritual, playful and restful places that connect them to other people, environments and to their own selves.

Explore opportunities to work with Gita in your classroom or other community site. For example, students can learn engineering and balance as they make copper and aluminum mobiles. Students create tag board models; learn material properties and oxides; and develop skills with pliers, wire, punch, snips, file, rivet, and hammer. Text and textures may be hammered into pieces for additional interest around science or another theme.

This artist spotlight was first run in May 2014.