Using fire as a catalyst for his art, Lawrence Terry shares his fascinating portfolio and talks about the process and the result. Visit his website for more.
Having grown up in a military family, uprooting was a way of life for us. I was pretty solitary a lot of the time, and drawing became my companion. It was a portable pasttime that stayed with me through my growing up.
I went to Louisville School of Art and SVA in New York. My relationship with fire as a medium began in the eighties. I was introduced to fire via welding and raku firing. Raku in particular represented both refinement and total mystery. I became fascinated by flame, and also by its by-product, smoke, which could be used for marking surfaces.
The mystery and power of fire is incredibly compelling, and I love the challenge of both the need for control, and the simultaneous freedom it represents.
Fire is not only a medium, it is an element, and I experience a profound communion in creating art from something as alive as flame. It is part of nature, and the universal flow of energy surrounding us. Fire is linked through time to ancient tribal ceremonies, and my work process is definitely connected to that power and history.
I use several tools: the mini torch is like a pencil or brush, and I use it to create line and form. The torch creates hues that range from the rich earthiness of sepia, to blackened sepia.
Candles possess a more organic nature and produce broad sweeps of smoke marking, which are more cloud like. The color ranges from whispers of gray to carbon black.
My inspirations are Isamu Noguchi, Japanese minimalism, Australian Aboriginal drawings/paintings, African art and cave paintings.
Abstract expression is a natural manifestation for my work, and it is constructive in its nature, as well as very process oriented.
I work predominantly on 300 pound Arches paper, as it provides great structure for what I’m doing. I use the dremel to carve paper. Currently my work is mixed media assemblage with the element of fire as the primary component with its burnt and smoked hues. Acrylic paints, metal foils and mesh, and wood veneers are additional materials that are incorporated into the work.
I fabricate various components, then reassemble them into larger pieces. I’m not entirely sure where these pieces emerge from. Yes, there is design, yes, there is my aesthetic sense, but there is also something larger at work.
There’s a deeply ceremonial aspect in what I do, and its relationship to my environment. We have so little that connects us to the earth and nature in New York City (where I spend half of my time), yet it is something we all need and long for. I believe we need to find ways to access, and stay connected, to the power of nature that nourishes and sustains us.
My goal as an artist is to have a relationship with the viewer in which the superficial is bridged to the mystical; interpretation is suspended and infinite possibilities emerge.