Last winter term, Nate Singer ’17 completed his NY6 Think Tank project, “Primal Fault.” A product of the combined efforts of the Visual Arts, Engineering and Computer Science Programs, the beautiful maple leaf is now proudly displayed between Bailey Hall and the Science and Engineering Center. However, this year, Singer has branched out beyond last year’s NY6 Think Tank project. Displayed in the West Nyack Library of West Nyack is Singer’s latest installment, inspired by “Primal Fault.” In an interview with Singer, the artist discusses his new installment, as well as his artistic influences and love of creating.
Jenna Salisbury: Last year, you created a gorgeous leaf as part of NY6 Think Tank. The work in the West Nyack Library looks (pardon the pun) as if it branches off the large maple leaf piece currently on display in S&E. Are the two projects related, and if so, how?
Nate Singer: The two projects are absolutely related. The steel sculptures currently on display at the West Nyack Library are created with a similar branching technique to that of the maple leaf. However, with these steel sculptures, I am allowing their forms to become more abstract and take on a character that does not resemble anything found in the world.
They might look like familiar things but it is not my intent to allude to any specific forms. I like taking a geometry that can be found in nature, and intertwining it with my subjective touch. I think it is a nice balance between my art being rooted in something objective while still being abstract.
JS: You have a strong interest in art, and you had to collaborate with other disciplines to create “Primal Fault.” Are your sculptures and pen sketches in West Nyack Library a reflection of collaboration with other disciplines as well, or was this more of a solo project?
NS: This was a more solo project. The pen sketches are for sure entirely independent. I think an important component of those pen sketches is that they are defined by immediacy. More specifically, my reactions to the world easily transfer to the results I get on paper. Most of those sketches were done in doctor’s offices because I was taking my father to different appointments during the break but did not want to stop producing. One of the biggest breakthroughs I had with that series happened when my father had to get a sonogram so the doctor turned off all the lights to look at his screen. Instead of leaving I just rolled with it and started sketching with the lights off. The steel sculptures were also independently created with occasional help from the brilliant studio technician, Pat Healy.
JS: Being a senior this year, are you planning on incorporating these sorts of artistic pieces in your senior thesis in some way? If so, how?
NS: I do not have any specific plans for my senior project yet but I think that inevitably, these pieces will have an influence on what I produce for my senior show. As Chuck Close said in an interview, “work inspires work.” So my plan is to just keep producing and I know by the time May rolls around, I will have a presentable series.
JS: Do you have any influential artists that have influenced your own work, or any favorite artists that have made an impact on the pieces you create? If so, what about them impacts you and your work?
NS: There are a ton of artists that influence my work. With regards to this specific series, the pen sketches are directly inspired by Arnold Bittleman who actually founded the visual Arts department at Union. There is an incredible ink sketch on display on the first floor of the Visual Arts building by him that blows me away every time I look at it. It has a perfect combination of highly technical marks that unify to create an abstract image that almost resembles foliage.
As for the steel sculptures, they are highly inspired by Barbara Hepworth, who was known for the organic curves that she integrated into her sculpture and Chris Duncan, who is my current sculpture professor and advisor. He has been putting together an amazing series of small-to medium-sized sculptures that are all unique. Seeing those pieces helped me to figure out my own rhythm as a sculptor.