With his current show Waste Not, The Creatives Project Artist-in-Resident Justin Rabideau uses discarded wood and other items from home renovations to create sculptural works that resemble warped snow sleds, twisted railroad tracks and other mangled forms of metamorphosis. Showing at the Barbara Archer Gallery with the paintings of James Bridges through March 24, the show is a look at transitioning from one phase to another, with the found materials themselves inspiring their own backstory. As Rabideau prepares for his own transition from this show to his next projects, he talks to The Creative Process about his inspirations for this show and other upcoming events.
image courtesy of Romy Maloon & Creative Loafing Atlanta
Your work overall seems to often deal with themes of metamorphosis and transitions. Much of the work from this particular show has elements of things like bridges or, from my perspective at least, things like roller coaster or railroad tracks. When you were assembling this body of work for this show, were those subjects on your mind?
Metamorphosis and transition are definitely driving themes in my work. I like to think of an object or material as having a life. There is a past, present and future associated there. We imprint our lives onto the objects and materials that surround us. These materials change as we do; they develop their own languages, characters and histories. I try to tap into these ideas as I create my work. We all carry around our own life history with us, where you may see a bridge or railroad tracks I see the references to dilapidated houses or the way in which wood buckles and morphs with exposure to age, weather, time.
The idea of using discarded and found objects is a folk art tradition. Who are some artists, visual or otherwise, who have used similar materials, techniques or ideas that may have informed what you are doing now?
It would depend on what you mean by a “folk art tradition.” There are many artists out there that use found materials to create. I'm not certain it is purely a folk art tradition, but I do love and respect many folk artists. Robert Rauschenberg, Rachel Whiteread, Ai Weiwei, Martin Puryear, Duchamp, Sarah Sze and the Gee's Bend Quilters have all been influential artists for me.
You’re originally from Upstate New York and recently moved to Atlanta. What brought you to Atlanta and how have these different environments influenced your recent work?
I grew up in Upstate New York in a very rural town. My natural surroundings have always been very influential in my work. I suppose that I am always trying to connect myself to the environment that I am in. I actually came here from south Florida for work. In each environment that I have lived in I incorporate certain aspects of those places. In New York it was rocks and wood, Athens was Georgia clay and pecans, Florida was palm fronds and ocean and Atlanta has been the use of salvaged wood from the homes of the city. I reach out to these materials to tell a story of my relationship to the landscape and the environment that I am in.
Your work was featured in TCP’s The Second Coming event at the Goat Farm and you are also one of TCP's resident Artists-in-Studio. What exactly does that mean and how has it affected your creative process?
Being with The Creatives Project has been an enormous opportunity for me. As a resident Artist-in-Studio I have been given the chance to create in a dedicated studio space - something that I haven't had in years. The process of creating my work involves power tools and equipment, space and time. Through the residency I have been able to create an entire new body of work in a dedicated workspace. My thanks go out to TCP and all those that support the programming. It truly has been an incredible opportunity.
This show closes this weekend. What other projects are you working on and when/where will people be able to see them?
Currently I am working on a huge project for the Wonderglo fundraiser that will be happening on March 24. I am creating a sculptural table to seat approximately 250 people for the event. The table is created from salvaged wood and is a unique and custom piece of interactive sculpture. Also I will be installing a solo show, What Remains Remembers, in Florida that will be up from May 15 to September 15 at Palm Beach State College. I will also be leading a workshop in conjunction to this exhibit for the students there in September. I am also working on two collaborative works with some Atlanta artists that I hope will be happening this summer.