1964 – 1981 – “reassemble them into esoteric objects”
By 1964, I collected bottles that had been left by many generations before me, I assembled abstracted natural forms based on the color of the glass and the colors that form from many years of exposure to the elements. I would also build toy helicopters by inserting two feathers that bowed away from the center of one end of a corn cob finally adding dabs of color from partially used paint cans. By throwing the homemade toy helicopters as high as I could I would see them spin gracefully to the ground. The spinning caused the dabs of paint to look like horizontal stripes painted on the cob. In the forest I would also find discarded tools and personal effects, I would imagine what the stuff was used for and the people that used them then I would reassemble them into esoteric objects.
1981 – 1984 – “draw the woman that I was dating with makeup”
In school I discovered collage and created pieces from drawings, magazine articles and stained them with watercolor, primarily on Masonite which would depict a surreal reality that seemed to sum up how I perceived my interaction with society. I would draw the woman that I was dating with makeup, eyeliner and any other tool that she would use to capture the personality of the subject.
1985 – 1992 – “hyperrealist painter painting people that struck me as unusual or well-worn by life”
When introduced to oil painting I would use my collages and assemblages as subjects. Critics would assumed that the paintings were collage. I soon abandoned that idea. With time I became a hyperrealist painter painting people that struck me as unusual or well-worn by life. I created paintings of the human condition. By 1989 I returned to painting people in a series of Curanderos. In 1990 I created a series entitled the Force of Freedom depicting people from everyday life from children to a centenarian that I felt had affected me. In 1991 I traveled to San Francisco painted murals at Galleria De La Raza and Sunshine School and designed sets at York Theater in the Mission District. In Berkeley I was mentored by Ray Patlan and Eduardo Pineda and painted the West Branch Library about the importance of education and the Hispanic University mural in Oakland. At Stanford University at Casa Zapata designed a mural with Tony Bruciaga that was never realized. In 1992 I unveiled the Force of Freedom at the Mexican Cultural Institute.
1993 – 1997 – “found object as a utilitarian means of economy for conveying a sense of escapism”
By the beginning of 1993 I have felt the full force of rejection from my birth parents and not fitting in a in any aspect of society. I began cutting my work into strips and weaving them into grids as my attempt to create an imaginary neighborhood of congruent weaves of acceptance and unity without conformity. By 1995 I further complicated the work by introducing the found object as a utilitarian means of economy for conveying a sense of escapism. In 1996 I began proposing public work by creating maquettes of my ideas assembled from stocks of wood.
1998 – 2001 – “cannibalizing computers and trolling the neighborhoods”
I began to recall my childhood for sources of inspiration. The work transformed into rare glimpses that bespoke of aspirations of having a better tomorrow. These sources were replicated by cannibalizing computers and trolling the neighborhoods for electrical-mechanical metal objects that had become outmoded. I began the collecting of this material for Bliss. Bliss was my statement of assembling seemingly worthless objects as a large statement about the pursuit for serenity. The keys from an organ were attached to neon lights when the keys were played created what I refer to visual music. Timers and pumps were taken from old washing machines and incorporated into fountains. Hard drives operated as control arms for blinking LEDs and at the end of the assemblage. I reversed the wires of a clock just so it could turn back time. Even if time could have been turn back, any changes were not in my control.
2001 – 2006 – “I began assembling heavy steel”
With the purchase of a plasma cutter that is used for cutting steel with compressed air and a welder is when I began assembling heavy steel. Creating allusions to optimistic vignettes and large pieces that seemed to be top heavy during a time of pending loss of my mother from heart failure and cancer I became more of an introvert. In 2004 I began exploring every possible avenue of achieving the implementation of the minimal amount of sources of new material and the optimum for the use of material that was destined to be melted at the smelter. The hunt for these materials became time consuming proving why most prefer to use new material. The investment of time proved that reuse and repurposing is possible. I firmly believe that it is necessary to implement optimum recycling systems in order to leave a viable and livable earth that will sustain our posterity. I have also designed sculpture that requires the minimum amount of both work and resources. By working with stock extruded metals and assembling them with the minimum of cutting further conserves material. When smaller pieces of material are needed it is best to find material that is deemed by manufacturers to small of a piece for their purpose but works well with creating my work that can be translated and incorporated to other projects including the building industry. An example of this type of work “Elements” can be found at the John Igo Library. It is a kinetic sculpture that functions to harness wind energy to power the wind mills pump and to demonstrate resources for research. The turbine harvest power from intermittent wind sources to produce electric power. That electricity powers a water pump circulating water through a channel flowing into the library’s entrance area and back to a reservoir. The waterway ties the tall sculptural forms to the building and its grounds. This sculpture combines energy concerns and animal habitat preservation.
2007 – 2010 – “exchange of art and the environment”
The beginning of a transformative period: Continuing large sculptures that incorporated examples of clean and efficient tools for enhancing our living experience. The work initially incorporates photovoltaics that generate DC electricity and a convertor to have AC electricity in order to light the sculpture and not connect it to the grid. Time and technology proved that strictly using DC energy to power DC appliances is more efficient. Instead of further developing sculpture that includes the use of robotics or software that has been developed and to this day software that is capable of so many more functions such for varying controllers and virtual reality. I believe that the larger whole of assembly by sourcing materials that have been worked for other purposes promotes the conservation of resources and the preservation of our environment. Steel and aluminum require large amounts of oil and coking coal are needed for its production. The exchange of art and the environment will open the door on how these practices will synergistically address energy concerns with environmental preservation and a vast range of ecological issues. This discourse will help establish a dialogue designed to be embraced between artists, environmentalists from various backgrounds and disciplines, as well as the public at large.
2011 – 2016 – “pays homage to the people who have used the materials before me”
I explored how to economize Mother Nature’s resources and produced works based on the realization that this pays homage to the people who have used the materials before me. With a dedication to quality, I combine curiosity, exploration and emotion with the allegories entombed within my materials and emphasize how to conserve and preserve our planet for all creatures.
My series, “Wrapped”, amasses my expressed and private memories coupled with the memories of those that have used the materials before me. As a strict practice, I collect objects that are meaningful and carry the soul of those that have shaped or used them before. After compressing these objects they are wrapped and entombed within stainless or sweet steal salvaged from various manufacturers. The completed pieces are a wealth of life that celebrates many and continues to address my mantra “economizing Mother Nature’s resources by sustainability”.
2017 – Present – “combined memories or souls of the objects”
The work has taken an extensive search for the personal meaning of individual objects.
I collect objects and materials that are meaningful to my experiences in order to convey two stories. The story of the past and the second the creation of an optimistic approach for posterity.
Once the intellectual and spiritual process of gathering and sorting memories and responses is complete. The objects and the combined memories or souls of the objects, are considered and then shaped in honor of and accordance with the essence of their past lives, uses and recollections, to be given a new life. Phase II will begin with a random search of material that contain shared memories, again from similar experiences yet from two different time periods. The exploration and discovery of objects that convey an inherent experience symbolizes a transcendence that will be understood by another from a dissimilar background. If this is achieved then I feel that this could reiterate the conversation that a deeper connection exists with all across the globe.
Upon further consideration this work is the culmination of my early work as an observer of the human condition that stores proofs that are now combined with my willingness to integrate within our society.
Steel Art Studio by James Hetherington
121 Pierce Ave
San Antonio, TX 78208
cell (210) 331-7517