Five questions to Jaclyn Gordyan

Five questions to Jaclyn Gordyan

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Jaclyn Gordyan is a contemporary abstract nature artist and sculptor creating work for nearly 25 years. Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1983, she went on to earn her BFA and since then her work has evolved from realism to abstract. Gordyan lives and works in between Ann Arbor and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where she continues to forage and keep a studio practice.How did you get into art?

As a kid, I was constantly foraging for natural materials, drawing, and seeking ways to create things. It grew into me taking as many art classes as possible—everything from ceramics to photography to drawing to design. I was fortunate to have found mentors along the way who encouraged me. After I earned my BFA, I began searching for my medium. It took about 15 years of trying a variety of mediums before I finally found it by putting nature and abstract art together.

How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?

I work in abstract, and my collections weave together foraged natural material and express very human experiences. My work tends to focus on the small moments in nature and life- the parts that can go unnoticed unless someone shines a light on them.

I do this because we live in a culture of distraction and demand. And my work aims to counteract that cycle. It is an invitation to linger on and experience nature's unexpected, understated moments. The ones right outside. I reimagine and present these moments and the human experiences they express in a way that can be appreciated more deeply. By centering on a specific story, I invite others to see the awe beyond the obvious. 

For me, in the end, our connection to nature is ancestral. There are connections we recognize easily- beauty, nutrients, and life. But I want to give others another connection to recognize–nature as a powerfully grounding force.How do you go about developing your work?

I'll forage and discover pieces near home or travel to expose myself to new materials. Once I bring them to my studio I'll begin drying and treating them with any stabilizer needs. I'll usually set them aside for weeks, if not months, at this point. During this time, I'll return to work on other work in progress. I work in multiple mediums on paper, canvas, and sculptural so there's never a shortage of work to touch. Once the natural elements are dry, I'll explore what they evoke in me. I'll see a story come to life and, follow the thread and journal a lot to expand what is surfacing for me.

As my work becomes more sculptural, I seek ways to keep spontaneity in my practice. Whether building smaller-scale models, sketching, or working with CGI renderings, I'm finding this new process exciting to embrace. It's an interesting addition that allows me to explore ideas quickly.Who or what influences you?

Beyond the obvious, nature, there are a few things I continually find myself drawn to. Human connection- deep conversation often creates a whirlwind of thoughts that highlight areas of life worth focusing on.

Other artists' works- such as Leonardo Drew, Louise Bourgeois, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, El Antasui, Andy Goldsworthy, and Ibrahim Mahama, constantly inspire me.

Discovery- this can be in the form of self-driven or mistakes that lead somewhere interesting. Staying open to what happens is where the most exciting parts of studio practices live.

Make us curious. What are you planning to do next?

I have an artist residency secured for 2024. I'm beyond excited about it, and I'll be able to share more details on it later. Additionally, I've sent out solo show proposals for my latest collection, including a big custom art installation I recently dreamt up and can't wait to create. I also have a proposal out for an art installation. This last one is a collaboration with a school, and we're working to get a grant application written to fund it.

It's been a big year, and I see myself doing some very new things in 2024 that will expand me and my work.Learn more about the artist: