In Practice: Miles Eastman

Miles Eastman has been creating art for many years. This California native son has dug into his life experiences to create beautiful work by finding the balance between a freeform, loose technique and the rigor developed from many years of practice. 

Miles Eastman will be showing his new work at Basil Racuk shop on December 13th from 6-9. We are located at 3458a 18th Street in San Francisco. For more information, send me an email or call the shop  (415) 255-7457. We hope to see you there!

So let's dig in as Miles talks about his work, inspiration and the alchemy of his materials.

 

Start with one of your main influences, the Italian artist Marco Zeno. You've shown me his work that you've got at your house. What was it about his style or method that influenced the work that you're doing now?
Marco was very passionate and creative in his process and finding unconventional ways of working. Example: he developed a way of making clay sculpture with no internal armature because it limited his creativity so he created a add hock armature. In this spirit I lead with my creative impulse and create new processes or approaches to serve my vision.
The new pieces show forward movement in your exploration of the natural world. I'm intrigued with the mixed metals. They took me a minute to take in but now I'm all in with this concept! Tell me some about what's behind these new pieces. 
Most of the new work uses the cannabis stems for the natural form and copper or 14k gold forged pieces. The copper and gold are used at points of connection of two stems as a way to finish the joints. I really like the contrast between the natural shape and the forged / hammered / hand made look of the bands. 
 
Materials all require a different hand. When I'm working with buffalo skin it's important that I come in with a brut hand, ready to pound the skin and make it succumb to my needs. But deerskin wants to be stroked and treated with a soft touch. What have you found to be the differences between the materials that you're using, especially now that you are experimenting more with mixing metals?
Yes very similar, in my process I am working delicate plant mater, that would be like your deer skin, then rubber material that is a kin to chemistry, then wax, harder but delicate still. Plater type investment which is like making a cake. Then the kiln is like baking. Casting is like playing with lava, and then we get to the metals. The metals I am working with, bronze, copper, silver, and gold have similar properties for what I am doing. Copper is the softest and is quite easy to forge and easy to melt. The bronze is great for casting and take really well to patinas, it may be more like leather in that it changes more rapidly with use. Silver and gold are very forgiving and can be manipulated in endless ways, casting or forged. Gold and silver are similar in hardness but the gold is almost easier to work. I am really excited to be incorporating more forging of my cast silver, copper and gold pieces, I really like the contrast of the hammered look against the natural texture.
Your connection to the natural world is really evident when I spend time with you. This may go back to the question around your mentor: What are your thoughts around the balance of nature with art? 
There are three ways I am involved with nature in my process. In the search for interesting natural forms to transform into work. The practical working with the elemental nature of the world. Then the product, the commentary or the choice of representation of the natural world. Being in nature or simply putting my attention to natural objects in an investigative and inquisitive state brings me great joy. The best way to explain it is like a meditative state, yet very active. I try to tune into an open exploratory state that allows for new ways of seeing the world around me. I started on this practice at a young age growing up in Eureka Ca spending everyday in the forest. Then there is the process of mold making and casting that has a powerful balance with the four elements Fire Earth Air and Water that demands respect. The Earth objects I chose to work with then the investment is like forming stone, the fire to melt metal and burn out the pieces is like the transforming fire at our Earths core and the water to quench the casting and clean the work. This relationship is intrinsic and ancient. Then the result or expression or representation of the journey. 
You're a native son of Northern California. When I moved away, the thing that always stuck with me was the memory of walking through a eucalyptus grove. It always made me think of home. As you traveled through the world, was there something about here that you held with you?
The redwoods and how the forest grows right up to what seems like the edge of the west. The foggy days and the thick duff of the forest floor. The wet forest smell is like no other.

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