Leo Gottfried

Artist Statement

According to Webster’s, home is “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household”.  In my short life, I have moved four times and had to adapt constantly. As a result, for me, home is a mental state. I was born in New York City, an enormous noisy urban environment and then moved to the big outdoors of Jackson Hole, Wyoming at age 5. In Jackson, I was surrounded by nature and fell in love with the wilderness and became aware of how small and insignificant I am. Five years later, my family and I moved to Berkeley, California, a mix of urban, desert and ocean environments. Leaving Jackson Hole behind, I understood how much respect I had gained for nature. Now at Interlochen, I find myself drawn to the nature surrounding the campus. Moving so much has given me the ability to adapt easily but I also have a constant feeling of being off balance. No matter where I go I never seem to fully settle in, however, when walking in the woods or trekking up a steep mountain slope, nature has become that place where I feel at home. This strong connection and passion for nature, combined with a sense of rootlessness is what influences my work.

My artwork bounces between my love for sculpture and architecture. Each large sculpture is an attempt at creating a space for the viewer to experience the awe I feel in the outdoors. Nature can be spectacular but threatening. No matter how much I try to control aspects of my work in the end nature takes over. I start these pieces with specific intentions but invariably I end up giving into the natural impulse. My piece, Natural DNA, was originally designed to stand vertically but as it came into being it resisted that orientation. It refused to balance itself and tilted over onto its side, which now seems exactly how it was always meant to be.

My hope is that my artwork causes the viewer to take a step back and reflect upon our home on Earth, it’s beauty, and how we interact with it. Much of what we do to our home has unintended consequences. Nature always has the last word.