Weir artist Steffen Pollock is inspired by nature and China

A carving of an Inuit mask by Artist Steffen Pollock features a cicada at the top, an important symbol to him.

As its artist-in-residence for the month of April, Steffen Pollock is enjoying the natural surroundings of historic Weir Farm in Wilton and Ridgefield.

The setting has inspired him to work on a photography project involving deer and deer migration. He has also created some designs for a series of ceramic plates.

The public will have the opportunity to meet Pollock and view samples of his work at a reception at Wilton Library on Monday, April 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Pollock, 25, likes crossing and combining different media with works in photography, sculpture, collage, poetry, essays, even tattoos. “I like to try new things. I’ve never been introduced to a medium I didn’t enjoy,” Pollock told The Bulletin.

Born in Baltimore in 1993, Pollock moved to China with his family when he was 9, settling in Jinan, a city about a four- hour drive south of Beijing. After graduating from high school, his family moved back to the States. “Initially, I didn’t want to leave the U.S., but after living in China for nine years, I became attached and didn’t want to leave,” he said.

While in Jinan, he noticed a lot of change in the community. Heavily industrial, Jinan is considered one of the most polluted cities in the world. “I experienced a lot of culture shock moving there from green Maryland,” he said.

During his time in Jinan, Pollock saw the city undergo a major transition. Initially, he said, bicycles were the city’s major form of transportation. But in a two-week period, a major thruway was constructed in his neighborhood. “It changed rapidly, and the bicycles transitioned into cars,” he said.

As a result of his experience overseas, Pollock considers both China and America home.

A design he created in Jinan is distinctly Chinese in nature, depicting swirls of smoke and people on gold fabric. “The style of this piece is directly from a traditional way of painting Chinese landscapes, but reinterpreted through my eyes of a place I liked to go in my neighborhood,” Pollock said.

Another Chinese-inspired work is a carving of an Inuit death mask in French marble. The carving features a cicada insect above the mask. Cicadas are popular in Chinese art dating from the Shang dynasty (1700 to 1027 B.C.), representing carefree living and immortality.

“This piece is about my life process, dying, and being born, and the desire to be born. Sometimes I wonder if people are given the chance to be born more than once. I wonder if we will have the chance to come up out of the ground, and fill the trees,” Pollock wrote about this piece.

A number of his works draw from literary sources, (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Hunger Mountain, and Spell of the Sensuous), exploring the lack of distinction in “subject” and “object.”

At Weir Farm, Pollock has been taken with the site’s many stone walls. “I appreciate art that doesn’t exclusively live in museums. The stone walls were made by humans and I consider them art. They’ve become part of the landscape that they inhabit,” he said.

Pollock’s experience at Weir Farm has also encouraged him to take a deeper look at national parks in general. “I’ve been following and thinking about outdoor space. Not as something separate from daily political economics, not as something we escape to, but as something we relate to in our daily lives,” he said.

The reception for Pollock at Wilton Library is co-sponsored by Weir Farm Art Center and Weir Farm National Historic Site and presented by the library. Admission is free and registration is suggested at wiltionlibrary.org., or call 203-762-6334.

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