Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Introducing Thor Myhre

Zen Beacon by Thor Myhre
We're extremely excited to have sculptor Thor Myhre join Mindport's staff as Exhibit Designer & Maintenance Technician.  Thor brings with him technical expertise and ingenuity, a wide-ranging imagination, and a commitment to both his own art and to encouraging others to pursue their creative leanings -all of which make him a perfect match for Mindport.  Stop by now to see Thor's contributions to the Faces show, or in the coming months to try out some interesting additions he's making to the beloved and venerable Aerotrack.  In the meantime, here are Thor's interesting answers to some of my nosy questions. 

Where were you raised?  
I grew up on a farm in Montana, near a town so small Montanans haven't heard of it.

Did you always make things?  What were your earliest projects?  Did you take any art classes growing up?  
I made a lot of my own toys and birdhouses, but I always chose shop class over art class until I went to college.

What changed for you in college? 

I thought I wanted to be an architect or an engineer, but I realized that often those are desk jobs.  It dawned on me that artists both design and build objects.

What sorts of materials interest you?
I tend to collect and use older metal objects, things that were made when concern about the efficiency of mass producing an item didn't trump form and aesthetics as often as it does now.  Durability appeals to me, as does farm ingenuity - modifying what you have to build what you need.  When you live an hour's drive from good parts stores, you end up getting pretty creative, and I remember often returning from the dump with more than we dropped off.

How do you feel about rust?
I like rust.  I find it much more interesting and intricate than paint.  Rust is actually a way metal protects itself.

How many found objects do you have right now?
I have about a 20 ton collection squirreled away in various places - lots of old, curvy, rusty things.  I feel like we're saturated with rectilinear shapes in cities, so I collect a lot of objects from periods when designs featured more curves.  It's hard to see good things going to the dump, but I'm running out of room.

Was the need to divert things from the waste stream (and your yard!) part of the inspiration behind founding RARE (Recycled Art & Resource Expo)?
Yes.  But I also feel like some of the green movement tries to motivate by guilt, and I want to inspire people by showing the fun and creative side of conservation.  Bellingham has an unusual number of reuse events, and I figured if we worked together to create a large collaborative event, it would attract out of area visitors, money, and press.

What's one of the workshops you teach?
My class titled Junk has Soul: Sculpting with the Found Object offers a huge variety of interesting bits and different ways to connect them.  In part, it's about recognizing that with hours of human contact and use, a lot of tools and other parts are imbued with their own character, memory, or soul.   In general, I hope to ignite or feed a creative spark in students that they might access at other moments in their lives. 

What are you working on right now?  Where can people go locally to see some of your work?   
Right now I'm working on a public sculpture for downtown Anacortes and a gate for a community garden that’s a collaboration with members of a high school welding club.  Appliance Depot has a 10' tall figure made from stove burner grates under their sign on Marine drive.  I made a bike rack from stainless steel plumbing fittings at Chuckanut Brewery, and the Beach Store Cafe on Lummi Island has a rack made from farm and fishing implements.  This spring I installed a large one ton piece titled Satori in Fairhaven in an alley between 15th and 16th streets, just south of Taylor street.

That was fun.  Thanks, Thor!

For more about Thor or his work, visit his website,
check out this cool YouTube video,
or become a fan of his Facebook page
....and keep an eye out for Thor's work at Mindport.  

Satori by Thor Myhre
Chuckanut Bike Rack by Thor Myhre
Burner Man by Thor Myhre

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