Everyday Objects Come To Life

Photo by Maxwell Reide.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4 Steve Gerberich, a sculptor of all things entertaining, visited SUNY New Paltz in Lecture Center 102 to discuss how he creates interactive artwork out of everyday objects.

Gerberich is an interactive sculptor who creates pieces that bring imagination to life. He has been on shows such as CBS Sunday Morning and the NBC Today Show and has been featured in publications such as The New York Times and The New Yorker, among many others. Whether he uses a plastic dinosaur or a lampshade, Gerberich is constantly searching for new possibilities.  He creates his artwork out of objects like cardboard, pieces from bicycles or license plates and connects those objects to simple machines to make them come to life.

Originally from Iowa, Gerberich made his way to New York in the 1980s.

“A self taught art mechanic,” as Gerberich described himself, started installing window installations in a department store. He wanted to make things more interesting, so when he had a window installation in SoHo, he made the intallations come to life.

“Science and art need each other,” Gerberich said. He added that there is always something to be learned. Afterward he spoke about his exhibition in Vancouver, Canada at Science World, titled “Spring, Sprockets & Pulleys.”

Gerberich discussed many of his pieces featured in the exhibition, such as “Catnip Choir,” which is solely made out of kitchen gadgets and the “Cash Cow,” a wooden mechanical cow made from parts of a bicycle that has hooves in converse sneakers.

During his presentation, Gerberich also showed videos along with pictures of his lively artwork to show the audience just what he means by bringing everyday objects to life.

One video he showed was a piece he titled, “Gerb’s Grand Orchestra.” At the push of a button, a fully sculpted band started to play drums, the trumpet, guitar and piano facing a sculpted conductor.

“Almost all my shows are interactive,” Gerberich said. “I can transform 120-RPM motor to do a lot of things using pulleys and other machines.”

Ben Lemovitz, a fourth-year BFA painting major, enjoyed Gerberich’s presentation.

“He is just playing, his artwork is light and not serious,” Lemovitz said. “My favorite thing he said was he has been reduced to using glitter because I really liked all of his glitter artwork.”

“The thing about having artwork all over is I get to travel – I got to go to SUNY New Paltz,” Gerberich said. His other traveling shows, such as “Holiday Springs & Sprockets,” are displayed all across the country in states such as Washington, Baltimore, Vermont, North Carolina and more.

He has created “The Flying Reindeer,” a wooden display of moving reindeer by 120-RPM motors using pulleys and “Object Treeve,” a Christmas tree made out of all types of household objects including license plates and books.

Gerberich’s artwork has also brought him overseas to France, where he started his NOEL series. In this series, he spells the word out by using objects that match his surroundings. For example, in France he spelled the name by using French baguettes, and in Iowa by using 26 pickup trucks.

Arielle Ponder, second-year visual arts major, described Gerberich’s work as beautiful and playful.

“I liked how the art was interactive and available to all different levels of people from children to adults.”

“Science has an automatic role in the artwork that I make,” Gerberich said. He added that he always tries to challenge himself to create new installations in his exhibits.