David French (davidfrenchartist.com) received a BFA from Atlanta College of Art in 1983. In the late 1980s he began making and painting wood sculpture while living in Berlin, Germany. Since moving to Seattle in 1991, he has continued his artistic exploration, straddling a line between painting and sculpture. His work has been exhibited regionally and nationally. A recipient of an NEA grant for sculpture from Western States Arts Federation, David has also been awarded fellowships at Vermont Studio Center and a senior residency at Oregon College of Art and Craft. His work has been reviewed in Art in America, Sculpture Magazine, and American Craft, among other publications. In Seattle, David is represented by Patricia Rovzar Gallery.
What drives your artistic practice? What gets you into the studio?
My artistic practice comes from a deep need to immerse myself in a focused creative process, one that places an emphasis on the handmade, and where discovery is the key element. This need is driven by a curiosity to make the invisible visible. There is also a spiritual component to my practice.
How did you choose your medium? What medium are you currently working in? Has this changed?
In the late 1980s, while living in Berlin, Germany, I began to use discarded fruit and vegetable wood crates that I collected at an outdoor Turkish market. I’d cut the crates apart and use the 1/8” plywood slats to construct sculptural objects that I would then paint with oils. The work has evolved over many years and yet I’ve continued working with wood to create work that is painted with acrylic and oil.
Who are your creative heroes? And why?
My creative heroes are the outsider artists. The Reverend Howard Finster was one who especially inspired me as a young art student. I knew him and visited his studio on a number of occasions. I find that the work of outsider artists is largely unfettered by the weight of art history and the baggage that many of us carry into our work. Their motivations appear to be infused with a direct authenticity that feels to me to be both entirely original and mysterious.
If you could own a work of art by any living artist, what would it be (or whose)?
“For the Love of God,” by Damien Hirst! The last I heard was that the diamond-encrusted skull sold for $100 million.
Describe a single habit/behavior/action/work ethic that you strongly believe contributes to your success.
In addition to the many hours spent constructing and painting my work, I’m also always looking. I’m constantly looking at all that surrounds me. I take in a great deal of information through looking, and anything I see can become a part or piece that may consciously or subconsciously play into my work.
What is one question you want to be asked about your work?
I can't think of a particular question, although I enjoy questions that arise while looking at
an individual work.
- 2014 – “Tone,” Linda Hodges Gallery (Seattle, WA)
- 2010 – “New Work,” Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery (Portland, OR)
- 2009 – “New Work,” Cumberland Gallery (Nashville, TN)
- 1999 – “Looking Outward,” Susan Cummins Gallery (Mill Valley, CA)
- 1998 – “A Gathering: Recent Wood Sculpture,” Greg Kucera Gallery (Seattle, WA)
- 2014 – “BAM Biennial 2014: Knock on Wood,” Bellevue Arts Museum (Bellevue, WA)
- 2013 – “Wood: On and Off the Wall,” Strohl Art Center (Chautauqua Institution, NY)
- 2008 – “Century 21, Dealer's Choice,” Wright Exhibition Space (Seattle, WA)
- 2003 – “Senior Residency Show,” Hoffman Gallery, Oregon College of Art and Craft (Portland, OR)
- 1996 – “The Essential Object,” Palo Alto Cultural Center (Palo Alto, CA)
- Fenwick and West (Seattle, WA)
- Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA)
- Philip Morris Corporation (New York, NY)
- Whatcom Museum (Bellingham, WA)
- Packard Foundation (San Francisco, CA)