Sean Healy's The Nesting Instinct, at Elizabeth Leach Gallery this month, is a fascinating exhibition. The works look like snapshots found in Mom's college album or drawings from children's books preserved in paperweight glass. Healy, a bespectacled young man, took time off from his job at Fourth Dimension Studios (a glass company) to talk with WW at Justa Pasta about his latest show.
Willamette Week: Reviewers have classified you as "up and coming." Do you ever want to call them and say, "Look, I'm not about to arrive, I have arrived. I was featured in the '99 Biennial, I'm represented by Elizabeth Leach, my sculpture's in Pioneer Place--I'm here"?
Sean Healy: I kind of take it as a compliment. "Up and coming" means you're striving, you're pushing yourself. The Biennial seems like a fairy tale now. It came from left field. I had had one group show at Salem Bush Barn before that. The Biennial gave me a little boost because I could start talking to Elizabeth Leach and Terry Hopkins and say "Well, I have an idea for a show." I don't know how much clout the Biennial holds, but....
It gave you personal confidence?
You use found images on media such as resin and steel, but it's glass that dominates your work. What first attracted you to the material?
I was a printmaker and didn't know anything about the medium. Coming into it as I did was probably beneficial, because I didn't have any ideas as to how things should look. I think the thing that I really like about glass is the way light passes through it. It's the same with the resin--the ability to transmit light. Also, I like the ability to see through it. It's a very sensuous material.
One of my favorite elements of your work is the titles, as yours seem like components of the work. A lot of artists hate coming up with titles. How do you create them?
I'm reading all the time, and I write down passages and sentences. Then I put down snippets of sentences for a piece. I like the sound of certain words together. I don't want to tell too much, to give the piece away, so I'll only put down part of a sentence. Titling is one of the things I enjoy most.
For The Attraction of the Group, how did you come by so many butterflies, and what was it like working with something as fragile as butterfly wings?
I found them on the Internet. When I ordered them, I didn't know they would be folded and dry, so I had to rehydrate them in Tupperware and then peel them open. I probably have just as many butterflies in jars at home that didn't work. You know, they wouldn't unfold or the wings broke. It's kind of cool, I open my refrigerator door and there are all of these butterflies in there.
What would you say to the next up-and-coming artist?
Keep working, and enjoy doing what you do.
Sean Healy's Nesting Instinct
Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Christine Bourdette's bronzes are also on exhibit at the gallery.