Sculptor Emil Alzamora
My name is Emil Alzamora.
2. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Lima, Peru but grew up in Boca Grande, Florida and Mallorca, Spain. My father is English so I am a British Citizen. My mother's father was Peruvian and her mother was from Michigan. My family is a bit of a mixed bag. I currently live in Beacon, New York.
I am a full time sculptor and artist. I graduated art school in Florida with a BFA in 1998 and moved almost immediately to Newburgh, New York which was very close to one of the best fine art foundries in the world, Polich Art Works, now Polich Tallix. There I honed my skills and built a substantial body of work which launched my sculpting career at age 25. I've been making art full time since then.
4. What artists inspire you?
I have been inspired by a range of artists from a range of artistic periods and cultures. My mother, late grandmother, two aunts and my late uncle are/were all working artists. This was also a huge influence. Anything from ancient Egyptian to Greek and Roman to Asian art has deeply impacted my understanding of the power of sculpture. Michelangelo is one of my biggest inspirations. The power, emotion and weight of his works has always inspired me. Bernini and Rodin, Carpeaux, Brancusi, and in more recent years Kimi Smith, Antony Gormley, Magdalena Abakanowicz as well as Tin Tin and Marvel Comics to name a few.
5. How did you become interested in art?
As I mentioned earlier, many of my immediate family were and still are working artists. It was perfectly natural to draw and paint and play with clay from the time I could hold a pencil. Drawing was the first thing I would think about when I woke up all through my childhood. Especially on weekends when I didn't have to wake up at 530 am to go to school. Initially I was into drawing the basics (stick figure war scenes, spaceships and race cars, then story telling and comics grabbed my attention. I took extra art classes in high school and learned more about classical art and eventually dove head first into sculpture at Florida State University where they had great teachers and a full bronze casting foundry as well as a large capacity kiln and ceramic department.
6. What motivates you?
I love making and exploring both form and reactivity. Not just how something ends up looking, but how it got to looking that way. Chemical and physical reactions fascinate me. I like to examine and experiment with the physical properties of the seemingly infinite sculpting materials and processes, both traditional as well as cutting edge. I think of my studio as a laboratory for irrational experiments. Beyond that, I remember very clearly what seeing art and wanting to make art meant to me as a young person. The energy and enthusiasm that brought me was invaluable. Ultimately, what really motivates me is to think that my work could do the same for others, young and old, both contemporaneously as well as in the distant future.
7. What advice do you have for beginning artists?
Work work work. And if that sounds like it’s daunting, then rethink what it is you want to do. I could easily rephrase that as play play play. But either way, you will likely get tired, sore, back aches, etc. The energy source to propel you should be bigger than yourself. In other words, fame, recognition, admiration, likes, money, edginess should not be the main source of motivation. This is a fleeting thing. Advancing consciousness, expanding human perception and awareness, building emotional connections, that’s the stuff. It’s a calling that pulls at me even while I sleep, like a glowing thread that tugs and tugs no matter where I am or what I am doing. Balance is key too. Eat well, sleep well, connect with community (this is very important!!!) having some fun and exploring business possibilities are all part of being realistic in one’s artistic aspirations. We live in the world, it is important to honor that, but it doesn’t mean you can’t shape it a little bit. As for the economic future of being an artist, I mainly work with galleries who show my work and do the art fair circuit. I’m still learning because the art world, like many other industries, is a shapeshifter. Maybe young artists can teach me a thing or two about how best to use the internet.
9. When did you make your first sculpture?
I’ve been “playing with clay” for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until my second year in college that I had my first real taste of making a substantial sculpture. It was a small bronze figure, about 20 inches tall if standing, that I sculpted out of wax. I learned how to make an investment mold where the wax is melted out and then the bronze is poured in. It was a super complicated process but the result was hugely satisfying. I was hooked.
9. What is your favorite sculpture you have made?
Great question. It morphs from time to time. I guess it’s the one I’m about to make. It’s scary, unfamiliar, vexing, unstable and in that quantum zone where it is neither here nor there yet. That potential is what I am most excited by. I keep thinking my best work is either around the corner or in a distant future. But if I had to pick one, I’m not sure I could.
10. How has your upbringing influenced your work?
My mother, although a total pacifist, was very militant with taking us to museums and ruins and to far off places that would inevitably shape who my older (2 years) brother Daniel and I were. She always said that travel was the best learning experience and the best thing you could do with your money. We lived paradoxically like paupers (I worked 4 to 5 nights a week at a restaurant from the time I was 12 up until I graduated high school) and rich kids, where we would leave school a month early and come back a month late because we were off somewhere, usually Mallorca where my aunt lived, seeing the world. When I was 11 and 12, for almost two years we sailed the Mediterranean from Spain to Turkey and back. My stepfather was an experienced sailor. I feel I grew up quickly there. The ocean is the best teacher. My mother wouldn’t buy us much at all, but she did all of that for us. Apart from growing up around all the art, the exposure to both classical and contemporary life through travel has been enormously influential.
11. What are you working on now?
Currently I am feverishly working on my impending solo show in NYC opening September 6 at Krause Gallery on Orchard St in the Lower East Side. It’s coming together and I’m super excited to install the work because I will be trying something completely different with regards presentation. The show is called The Appeal. I like to think humanity might rethink its case, and try harder to be more conscious and to be better stewards of the planet. The central figure has his arms raised high as though in prayer or as though appealing to a higher power. I’m still hashing out the nuances of the sculpture but I feel it is coming together.
12. What is your motto in life?
Alive in the Miracle.
13. Website: www.emilalzamora.com
14. Instagram: @emilalzamora