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Front Window Spotlight: Greg Bartol, Debbie Drllevich, Anita Schuller, and Jenifer Wright

Our current front window display is a collaborative piece by art welders Greg Bartol, Debbie Drllevich, Anita Schuller, and our new Executive Director Jenifer Wright. “The Guardian” is on display through October 15th. Images courtesy of the artists.

"The Guardian"

“The Guardian” is a collaborative piece produced by the art welders at Green River College: Greg Bartol, Debbie Drllevich, Anita Schuller, and Jenifer Wright. For the 50th anniversary of the college, Greg petitioned welding students to contribute their time and skills to construct a forest of trees (representing the campus) and bees (to represent the burgeoning apiology department) for a fundraiser gala.

Not ready to work on a team quite yet, a quiet student on the autism spectrum (who prefers to remain anonymous) decided the forest they were creating needed a guardian. Her 2-D sketch started a discussion, and as she worked independently to rough out her idea of a face, the crew built giant claws and the massive, muscular body to ensure the forest would remain protected. Horns and wings were added through collaborative, lively discussion. Once the forest was secured, “The Guardian” moved to Ravenna to protect the residents of the senior community at ERA Living where he admittedly has become a bit of a softie. Who wouldn’t with all the hugs and attention?

We recently asked the artists some questions about their creative work. Here is what they had to say.

How did you get started as art welders? After your first attempts at it, what kept drawing you back to it?

Within the Welding Technology Program at Green River College (GRC), one of the Instructors encouraged and supported the idea of artists in-amongst the traditional welders. Over the past 14 years, the artist group grew as the welding program grew until there were about 30 established artists and about 100 people who had come for Art and Welding experience. Four of the artists helped form a program steering committee.

When the single welding instructor retired, the school decided to formalize art welding by moving it under the Dean of Continuing Education at Green River College, giving it new space, new equipment, and a new curriculum. In the meantime, the steering committee artists have remained together to do projects for public art, galleries, commissions, and events by welding together at Studio B near Lake Tapps.

Studio B is a unique art space and experience, which encourages artist collaboration in small groups of 2-4. This collaborative experience and the joy of welding draws us to share with other artists of all mediums.

There is great physicality in 3D work and art welding, especially at the scale of work like “The Guardian.” Share a bit about the physical experience of doing this work.

“The Guardian” is one of the projects that helped develop our spirit and propensity toward collaboration. Large scale projects present challenges about how to make them safe to display in public and how to make them modular for easier transport. These challenges are best solved by broader input and experiences.

Where do you find inspiration?

People often have an image in their mind of the artist working alone in their studio in isolation from the community of other artists, but inspiration comes from the collaborative experience of working with other artists. The answers to the challenges and the sheer surprise of the end result being more than initially imagined builds an experience that draws artists into community with other artists. There is still the research about the subject; there is still the learning; there is still the work; but sharing in the spirit of collaboration seems to be the best way to tap into the strengths of each individual involved.

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Permanent link to this article: http://arteast.org/2017/09/front-window-spotlight-grc-art-welders/