Pulling out eyelash hairs and molding private parts were topics of discussion as renowned Los Angeles artist Tom LaDuke began his week as Artist in Residence on Monday with a public lecture to a packed house at the Vosloh Forum.
LaDuke approached the podium and recounted personal anecdotes for each piece, winning the crowd over with his brash yet timid delivery.
“Sometimes I get ideas from specific moments,” said LaDuke speaking about his artwork Private Property.
“I was taking a bath and the part of me that was above water like my head and ear looked like a landscape. So I went outside and I saw parts of the landscape that looked exactly like my body parts.”
The audience, including a small white dog in the aisle, listened attentively as the stories and the artwork grew more personal.
The inspiration for one piece, Substitute Teacher, which is a dead bird made of clay drew gasps.
“I was living in New Hampshire and my great-uncle said “I’m sure you’re going to have to kill something so if you want to shoot something you can shoot a red squirrel.”
“I took a shot and it fell but it wasn’t dead and then I started to weep and I had to put it out of its misery,”Â said LaDuke.
The second shot didn’t kill the squirrel so he ran to look for help but couldn’t find the animal again.
“It actually started screaming. I didn’t know [squirrels] could scream like that,” he said.
A fixture of many pieces incorporates his hair and nails.
“Well it’s interesting that he pairs his personal experience with actual pieces of [his body],” said Jennifer Jai, a recent graduate who is focusing on her own artwork.
“It’s something that’s taken out of you and you’re manifesting it physically into something and as a direct relation. You can actually see pieces of him in the artworks. It’s like a reference to the act of making,” said Jai.
LaDuke’s artwork is usually fragile in nature and many visitors at the reception, following the lecture, in the Art Gallery were asked to leave their bags in a separate room.
“I don’t know where he gets his ideas but he puts a lot of work into his pieces,”Â said Mauricio Cobian, photography.
“The people who went [to the lecture] came away with a lot to think about and look at the things in the gallery differently,”Â said Brian Tucker, director of the Art Gallery.
The Artist in Residence program, now in its 27th year has been successful every year, according to officials.
“Tonight marks the beginning of the last residency offered under the auspices of the division,”Â said Interim Dean of Visual Arts and Media Studies Joseph Futtner. “As of fall 2013, Visual Arts and Media Studies will join Performing Arts and Communication studies in the new, soon to be completed, Center for the Arts.”Â
At the end of the night LaDuke sipped coffee and answered questions from a line of people getting signatures.
“Usually no one would know the stories, but the emotions get through. Sometimes people get it at a certain level. I’m lucky that way,” he told admirers.