Massachusetts based sculptor Tom Friedman’s work is instantly recognizable for its surprising use of materials like styrofoam, foil, paper, clay, wire, plastic, hair, and fuzz. “I don’t think about the construction of meaning. I think about the creating a catalyst for thinking. Meaning is too concrete. I want the viewer to think in different ways. I want to propose an ongoing process of investigation with no conclusions,” says Friedman. The artist’s great emphasis on materials makes him an analog artist in a digital world, and people looking at his work often remark on it’s “zen-like” quality.
Friedman’s aluminum sculptures in particular, highly detailed castings of figures, inject a magic into every day materials and make them into monumental pieces of art. He takes the most mundane materials possible and makes them otherwordly, and yet it still has a quality of domesticity, playing with the concept of support that the original baking tins have, designed to protect delicate food from burning. Each piece is created using crushed aluminum foil roasting pans, which, through a process of molding and lost wax casting, retain the original imprint of the baking tins. The context of his work changes when it is placed in different environments.
“Looking Up”, detail
His latest work titled “Looking Up”, recently installed on Park Avenue in New York, puts an emphasis on wonder and what happens when pedestrians in one of the world’s busiest cities take a moment to look up at the towering buildings that surround them. “Art, for me, is a context to slow the viewer’s experience from their everyday life in order to think about things they haven’t thought about,” Friedman explains. “Or to think in a new way.” “Looking Up” is the artist’s most ambitious work by far, a 33.3 foot tall stainless steel sculpture of a quasi-human man looking up at the sky. It is on view now on Park Avenue and East 53rd Street through July 15th, 2016.