Drew Austin in front of a painting

3-D Studio Demo Artist Drew Austin

Drew Austin will be in the 3-D Studio demonstrating 3-D sculptural space December 16–17.

Layering ideas or objects and/or placing objects next to each other creates a dialogue between the viewer and the artist as well as between the two objects or the two grounds, which I can trace back to being a closeted gay male not living my full life and having that dialogue between two versions of myself.

– Drew Austin

He is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Denver, CO. He recently graduated from Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design with his BFA and as Valedictorian and now works from his studio in The Temple in Five Points.

His work focuses on experience filtered through his own personal lens and revolves heavily around relationships between self, humans, and their connection to the natural world, often being shown through mark-making, play with material and surface, and exploration of the artistic process.

Megan Farlow: What will your demonstration at the DAM be like?

Drew Austin: My demo will be a complete deep dive into my process as an artist, and specifically as an installation artist. I have been working with wall murals lately, so I will be creating a false wall that will act like my canvas during the demo and then painting on that wall. On top of the painting portion I will be creating a sculptural installation out of disposed/forgotten/unfinished drawings, different studio materials, and objects. The space will be a work station that acts like my studio, with the central focus on this false wall that will be viewable and worked on from all sides.

MF: What kind of reactions/viewer responses are you trying to achieve with your installations/sculptures?

DA: I don’t really think about the audience reaction when I create, but more about the method of creation and keeping that quality of creation visible throughout the work. I want the audience to be interested in my work and method of creation because maybe it doesn’t look finished or maybe it isn’t presented in the typical gallery/museum way. I like the feeling of creating work that looks like it potentially came straight from the studio. I believe the most authentic work comes from exposing how an artist created something, inviting questions about their process, and actually showing the process and the way an artist works.

Artwork by Drew Austin
Photo courtesy Drew Austin.

MF: How has your background influenced you as an artist?

DA: Coming from Montana, I am highly influenced by nature and landscape, which is a recurring theme throughout my work, though I don’t restrict the term landscape to the typical interpretation of the word. Sometimes lines that look like mountains or rivers are evident, but I also consider parts of the body in the same way I think about landscape, and mark making it highly influenced through landscape for me as well.

Being a gay male, and again coming from Montana, I have been influenced by the opposite of what the norm is, so I find myself trying to stray away from the typical, finding a different solution to problems, or trying to find something that is true to myself rather than the façade that is placed on me, which I believe comes through in my work as well. The concept of layers and duality stems from this too. Layering ideas or objects and/or placing objects next to each other creates a dialogue between the viewer and the artist as well as between the two objects or the two grounds, which I can trace back to being a closeted gay male not living my full life and having that dialogue between two versions of myself.

MF: You use a wide variety of materials for your sculptures and installations, can you describe a bit about your artmaking process and how you choose these materials?

DA: I am completely inspired by material and the process of art creation, so I choose my materials based on their quality, their function, or their potential. I find the creases of crumpled paper quite beautiful and in my mind can find connections between landscape, human form, and mark making just in that. Paint swirling through water is so similar to river forms or smoke trails and dripping of gouache is like rain on a window. The visual layers of window screen over itself reminds me of days when you can see layers of clouds move over each other and the sky suddenly has this impressive depth to it. I am recreating things that inspire me in nature, but through the process of creating my own work.

I am also drawn to this concept of legacy and when this comes into play in an artists’ career, so I keep nearly everything in my studio. Drawings or paintings that are tossed aside can be used as material later and drawings that I thought were horrible when I made them can change after a few months of having them in a box. This is why I use other people’s thrown away art as well, because who knows, maybe one day they will be famous, and my work will just happen to have a scrap image of their work in it, and then how will my work be viewed in conjunction? This is a fascinating thought to me and something I am currently working on through a different body of work called Unsolicited Collaborations which can be viewed on my website.

Megan Farlow was a studio and artist programs intern in the department of learning and engagement at the Denver Art Museum. She enjoys the museum’s American Indian art collection, especially works by Jeffrey Gibson.

Read more on: studio Colorado artists