Thursday, March 21, 2013

Artist Interview :: Tom Stocker

Get to know a Copley artist! Tom Stocker's trompe l'oeil depiction of a carpet vibrantly exudes texture, and is one of the stand-out works on display in our "Winter Members Show: Elemental." Recently, the Co|So staff interviewed one of our brilliant members about this work and his artistic career. 

1. Who is your greatest influence?

I have always been drawn to the colorful, the primitive, and the exotic, so it follows that I would admire the work of Delacroix, Gauguin, and Matisse, who all looked to the Orient for inspiration. Matisse especially had an eye for the patterns seen in fabrics and oriental rugs, a taste acquired from his father's family business. The names of artists throughout history such as Bellini, Holbein, Lotto, and Memling are in the lexicon of oriental rug studies.

2. Tell us about your work "Dragon and Phoenix" in the Winter Members’ Show: Elemental.

My painting, "Dragon and Phoenix" is a faithful interpretation of a historic rug fragment in Berlin's Museum of Islamic Art. Ironically, Armenian letters are found in the composition, indicating a Christian origin. Beyond the history lesson, the painting illustrates the connection between the "craft" of weaving, a product of the loom's grid, and contemporary art's frequent reference to the grid as its fundamental base. Another version I made of this painting is in the collection of the Armenian Library and Museum of America.

Tom Stocker, Dragon and Phoenix, 31.5 x 31.5, acrylic on canvas.
  3. How would you characterize the arc of your career?

My career as an artist has always been rooted in my love for oriental rugs and textiles. After twenty years of painting full scale interpretations of carpets, some as commissions for collectors and corporations, the recent recession necessitated a turn to smaller, more diverse subject matter. I quickly realized that my tactile, pointillist technique which emulates a textile, could be adapted to any subject producing intriguing effects, even in portraiture. But I always return to my first love, the carpets of the nomads, tribes and villages of the Mideast.

4. Did you attend an art school?

In the mid 1960's, I attended on scholarship Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts, which at the time still adhered to a strict, academic curriculum. Freshmen studied painting, sculpture, anatomy, perspective, composition and design, art history, ceramics, and took three hours of drawing from a live model SIX days a week.

5. When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

My grandfather in his retirement used to make braided rugs in his workshop. He would let me quietly watch the process from cutting and dying the wool to the weaving. Seeing the process from shapeless scraps into a colorful, beautiful pattern was magical for a small child. I learned that it was as much about patience as concept and skill. I wanted to be like that!