Pennsylvania-based artist Eli Blasko's sculpture "Conversation Machine No. 2" shows the process -- generating ideas, refining what is to be said, and coming up with a final product -- behind holding a conversation. The artist said his sculptural work often takes inspiration from cognitive processes.
LAUREL BLACK | The Sun
Eli Blasko, the latest participant in Paducah's Artist-in-Residence program, demonstrates a simple photo transfer technique using adhesive during a workshop at AIR Studio, 621 Madison St., on Saturday. Blasko works in two- and three-dimensional media, and will be holding a final show at the end of February.
For Eli Blasko, a diagram is more than a dull illustration confined to the pages of a textbook.
Large-scale sculptures that take inspiration from maps and diagrams number among the many projects of the Paducah Arts Alliance’s current artist in residence.
“A lot of my work is (based on) cognitive functions and mental functions. ... I like thinking about thinking, and thinking about how I would map that out,” Blasko said.
In other hands, such conceptual work might make viewers yawn. But the Pennsylvania-based artist says he tries to make his work — which includes videos, traditional drawings, and sculpture — open to audience exploration.
An example is his “Architectural Model of a Mind in Thought,” a large wooden sculpture reminiscent of an M.C. Escher drawing.
“I was thinking about how the mind can race around, so I built this labyrinth that doesn’t have a beginning or an end. ... It was a nice large scale, people can really walk up and get lost in it,” he said.
He said larger work appeals to him because it invites the viewer to explore the art in a playful way.
Blasko finds that element of playfulness important in his work, as well as his life. For that reason, working as an artist — with a supplemental job in the food service industry — suits him.
“(The) job is kind of like playing. People get older and play less and less,” he said. “Having the time and the maneuverability to be able to play is really valuable, not just for being an artist, but for being a happy person.”
The residency in Paducah marks Blasko’s first, and he said his two weeks here have given him the time and space to focus on his work.
Since Blasko hails from a small town, he hasn’t experienced much of a culture shock during his stay. He has, however, noted some differences between Butler, Pa. — a town about the size of Paducah — and his temporary residence.
“It seems like the arts are really well received (in Paducah). ...I go to the coffee shop, and there’s art up. I go to the winery, and there’s art up,” he said. “It seems like everybody’s an artist on the side.”
In his spare time, Blasko has been exploring the local landscape, occasionally picking up materials to incorporate into his work. He said he especially enjoys some of the more industrial areas of Paducah.
“You can’t throw a rock in Pennsylvania without hitting a rusty part of a machine. So I like Midtown (in Paducah). I don’t know that it’s influenced my work so much as it’s nice to look at, and it sort of has that factory quality.”
The visiting artist’s work will be on display from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, at AIR Studio, 621 Madison St.
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.