The Penny Stamps Speaker Series offers Stamps students an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the most prominent creative practitioners of our time. Recently, one such meeting gave graduate student Trevor King (MFA 2015) the chance to intern with renowned sculptor Antony Gormley. For a month, Trevor worked on everything from metal fabrication to art handling and project development. Here, Trevor talks about how he got the internship, and what he learned.
While I was first introduced to Mr. Gormley’s work through slides in my undergraduate sculpture classes, I was introduced to him personally during his visit to the University of Michigan, when he presented a lecture as a Penny W. Stamps Series speaker, in fall 2014.
After this presentation I was invited to have dinner with the artist by Chrisstina Hamilton, director of the Stamps Speaker Series. Here we were able to discuss many of the ideas he presented in his talk, and I was able to share a bit about my own work and aspirations. Kindly, he offered to continue this conversation by inviting me to work as an intern at his studio in London.
In the spring, with the support of the U-M International Institute and the Stamps School, I eagerly traveled to London, where I was ushered into Gormley’s impressive studio compound, with its multiple workspaces, photography studios, model making rooms, and storage facilities, as well as a library and group kitchen. Dedicated almost exclusively to metal work, Mr. Gormley sees this place a bit like a factory, employing approximately 20 other workers to produce sculpture. New ideas and strategies for describing space are constantly being forged.
I was given the opportunity to work on the metal fabrication of two sculptures. However, my gained experience and insight was not limited to material or process. Amidst the hustle of everyday studio production, Mr. Gormley would make time to discuss, often looking for a debate about his conceptual ideas.
The daily conversation ranged from specific works to future projects, to how other artists were expanding the field of sculpture. On several occasions, Mr. Gormley met with the fabricators to evaluate multiple iterations of a single method of sculpting, or sculptures stemming from multiple “poses” made within the same process. This allowed the group as a whole to share ideas of what was most effective, and discuss how to move forward with new designs.
These critiques, like our conversations, were a chance to discuss the content of the new works, placing emphasis on how an individual can relate to the sculptures, and how the artworks could be seen as a tool to contemplate the body in space.
Often, Antony made time to discuss the work I had been making in the MFA program at Stamps. I cherished these opportunities and tried to squeeze every bit of wisdom and insight out of Mr. Gormley that I could. Now, I am coming back to my own studio with new skills, knowledge, perspective, and an absolutely incredible mentor. I look forward to sharing my future artwork as I continue to benefit and grow from this phenomenal experience.
Trevor King received his MFA in Spring 2015. On June 18, he received the International Sculpture Center's Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. View his work online at trevorkingart.com.