Working out of the Box is a series of features presenting architects who have applied their architecture backgrounds to alternative career paths.
Are you an architect working out of the box? Do you know of someone that has changed careers and has an interesting story to share? If you would like to suggest an (ex-)architect, please send us a message.
Archinect: Where did you study architecture?
I went to Ball State University - Muncie, Indiana where I received a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design in 1999. My main mentor was Daniel Doz who was true inter-disciplinary educator (PhD in Cinema Studies). Due to him and my own wandering interests, architecture school was mainly a theoretical playground for me to study the emergence of social activity, cultural relationships, physical and intellectual space.
Overprotective Home –mixed media installation – 2008 – dimensions variable
At what point in your life did you decide to pursue architecture?
My mother was an industrious high school teacher who took me on a bunch of college tours. I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do for a career, but on a visit to Ball State University, we decided to sit in on a presentation at the College of Architecture and Planning. The impact of the presentation, the sense of community, and an creative atmosphere were all I needed to surprise my mother with the words, "I'm going to school here."
Make, Believe – archival inkjet print – 2008 – 32" x 40"
When did you decide to stop pursuing architecture? Why?
I worked in a small office for a year- but both that experience and my previous internship did not help to excite me about the mundane parts of day-to-day professional practice. Looking back, I very likely would have stayed in the field if I would have had mentors to water my soil. During my internship in Buffalo, NY, a principal of the firm was explaining to me a wall system on an old building and turned to me and said "You realize this is a $100 lesson, right?"
Near the end of my undergrad, I had picked up an art minor and found myself flourishing as a photographer and video artist. So a few years later, I went back to Ball State to do an MA in photography. Since then, my career path has been totally directed towards art making and teaching. Last year, I finished up my art education with an MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Forces of Nature – archival inkjet print – 2008 – 36" x 48"
Describe your current profession.
Artist, Educator, Designer- in that order.
I am mostly a lens-based artist (photography and video), but I also do some sculptural installation. My art has gone through a myriad of thematic shifts over the last 7 years, but my most current work is planted firmly in the domestic sphere and involves my whole family (my wife and 2 sons). We perform scenarios of re-imagined activities and rituals in front of the camera and allow it to set permanent images that ride the line between spontaneous snapshots and contrived scenarios. My aim is to create photographs that mythologize uncanny and transcendent spaces.
The First Five Fathoms – video – 2006
My wife and I also do a range of freelance work that is a mix of photography, illustration, animation, video, and DVD authoring. Last year we conceptualized and created a stop-motion DVD environment for Asthmatic Kitty Records called "Encyclopedia Asthmatica" that showcased over 30 videos for their roster of artists.
Bloodline – archival inkjet print – 2008 – 36" x 48"
What skills did you gain from architecture school, or working in the architecture industry, that have contributed to your success in your current career?
I am extremely thankful to have an architecture education at the base of my art practice. It gives me an angle in art making that is relatively unique. Some key things that affect my process daily:
Respect for context
An interest in cultural and social underpinnings
A desire to collaborate
A distinct sense of composition, and spatial arrangement
The Visitors – archival inkjet print – 2008 – 32" x 40"
Do you have an interest in returning to architecture?
I wouldn't have said this confidently awhile back, but I have come to believe that I am an architect of photographic spaces, installed environments, and constructed social moments. In that sense I never left.
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