Professor of Art Ted Aub was interviewed recently on the radio program, “Out of Bounds,” hosted by Tish Pearlman. Pearlman spoke with Aub about his career as an award-winning sculpture and a professor of art at HWS. She began by noting he started his career majoring in painting and asking if that’s a normal path for sculptures to take.
“I began early on with cartooning,” Aub explained in his answer, saying he originally thought he’d pursue political cartooning. He was exposed to sculpting because painting majors were required to take a sculpting course.
“I realized I was interested in the space… more interested in the space than color,” in painting, explains Aub, noting when he started to consider a stronger pursuit of sculpture over painting as a career.
Pearlman and Aub also discussed the process of sculpting and casting in bronze, with Aub describing it as a “series of steps” to get to a bronze sculpture. Working in clay and eventually wax before casting, the work is “two generations away by the time it is finished… and something is lost” in each state of the sculpture. That is why, he says, he works on the piece in each stage, including the metal, in order to ensure the final work is what he as the artist envisioned.
The host also sought to delve into why Aub seems to put things – often specifically birds – on his subjects, leading to a very honest and humorous insight into the artist:
“It had to do with the idea that, with statues in public, you’re going to get the birds either way,” he said. “So I started to incorporate them in the statue in the hopes that there’d be a bird on a bird.”
This also speaks to his interest in stacking objects in his works. In one, for example, he has a hat, apple and bird on a head.
The two discussed the difference, too, between public, commissioned work and independent work (such as what is exhibited in galleries). “They often look like they’re by two different people,” Pearlman said. Aub agreed that he does treat them differently and explained his philosophy of public art.
“There’s a lot of respect involved because it’s a depiction of history that is going to be left for a long time.”
Among Aub’s public commissioned work are two sculptures at the Colleges (William Smith and Elizabeth Blackwell); four outdoor sculptures located in Merrick Park, Coral Gables, Fla.; and “When Anthony met Stanton,” which portrays Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Amelia Bloomer and was commissioned by Governor George Pataki as a tribute to the women’s suffrage movement. It is set along Van Cleef Lake in Seneca Falls.
He chooses his depiction of the history carefully, however, to suit the audience who will see it and the relevance of the moment. In describing his two campus works, for example, he says he depicted Elizabeth Blackwell as youthful to appeal to the college students who would pass her every day, but he depicted William Smith as an older man, in his eighties, because that’s the age he was when he founded the College.
When asked if he’d like to be a “famous” sculptor someday, Aub replied, “Sure, that would be nice,” laughing and noting it’s not something you can or should plan for. “I’d like to do more public commissioned work; it would be nice to have things in Washington, but we’ll see how it turns out.”
They spoke, too, of his teaching at HWS and the subtle differences between his courses in sculpture and design. Pearlman also asked if it was possible to spot talent in students as he works with them, to which he replied he can, but many talented artists then have to work at it.
“What I really like, is students who don’t think they have it, but when they dig in, they find it. I like bringing that out,” he added.
Aub attended Brooklyn Museum Art School as a Max Beckmann Scholar. He holds a MFA degree in sculpture from Brooklyn College and a BFA degree in painting from Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
The full interview can be heard online.
“Out of Bounds” is the winner of the 2008 NYSBA Award for “Best Public Affairs Program Series.” It features intimate 30 minute interviews with visionaries: people living, working and thinking outside the mainstream. It airs Thursdays at 7pm on WEOS-FM at 89.7 & 90.3 in Geneva, NY or via live stream at www.weos.org