Fire Arts Festival: Alex Nolan brings ‘Inertia Flame’ to Breckenridge
by Heather Jarvis
Editor’s note: The second annual Fire Arts Festival, in conjunction with the International Snow Sculpture Championships, will continue through Sunday, Jan. 31. This is the fourth in a series of Q&A’s with nationally-known fire sculptors who will be bringing their pieces to the event. All sculptures will be ignited on the hour, starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m.
Whether it is metals, ceramic, wood, composites, or found objects, Alex Nolan strives to take common materials and evolve them into mechanical, musical wonders of physics and design. While traditional sculpture is his background, kinetic art represents his interests and upbringing. The Inertia Flame sculpture represents a culmination of many years of work, including design projects, installations and craft. All materials used in this project are upcycled from scrap and industrial waste.
Summit Daily News: How did you first get into fire sculptures and how long have you been creating them?
Alex Nolan: My pyro interests formed in my childhood, assisting my mom with her ceramics class and her continued encouragement to pursue art making. Although I use fire and electricity to create my artwork in metals and clay, and gas plumbing and fire systems fabrication is part of my work, this is my very first publicly exhibited fire sculpture.
SDN: What was the inspiration behind this piece?
AN: Quite frankly it is a culmination of years of practice and experimentation, as well as influence by my fellow sculptors and fire artists. The form developed organically as a collaboration with my girlfriend, Rachel Arambula, and the kinetic element which drives it was reused and upcycled from a previous interactive sculpture.
SDN: What else inspires you in your artwork?
AN: The inspiration is the feeling one gets after successfully engaging somebody in interactivity with a work of art, especially one that warms the imagination as well as the body.
SDN: What is the most important tool you have when it comes to your work?
AN: Experience. Beyond that, a willingness to use what is available at any given moment to produce an end result. Equipment and materials come and go, but imagination, and perseverance, are a prerequisite for any art project.
SDN: Do you have any other projects you are currently working on that you’d like to mention?
AN: I am currently planning a long-term installation for a 27-foot-tall interactive, robotic sound sculpture built in 2007. “SOL” has been exhibited at Coachella Valley Music Festival, Burning Man, T.H.E. Show (Consumer Electronics Show), among others across the West Coast. It will be nice to finally have a great setting for the public to interact and play with the motion-activated musical compositions each person will produce as a result of their proximity and activity in the robot’s field of view.
SDN: What are you most looking forward to doing while in Breckenridge?
AN: Creating a few smaller sculptures using the wonderful studios provided to artists at the residency program here at Breckenridge Creative Arts.
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