Aaron Kramer considers himself a full-time artist and part-time alchemist. When Valley Fiber Life’s Brian Jewett told me about Aaron, he referred to him as the “Energizer Bunny of Found Object Art,” and that isn’t far from reality. Aaron uses life's ephemera to create cleverly constructed art - or craft - depending on the piece or series and how you look at each of these categories.
Although his creations immediately piqued my interest, a closer look left me utterly engaged, and I keep revisiting the wealth of online images and videos to see more deeply into his world. I have to admit, the Aaron Kramer studio itself is a feast. Who wouldn’t want to get lost in discovery here? As a matter of fact, sometimes Aaron invites groups of kids to his studio where he talks with them about his work and then turns them loose to find treasures and make a creation of their own. Aaron, I ask you, "Why do the kids get to have all the fun??" But I digress.
What I want to impart to all of you is that Aaron’s inventions are driven by his technical skills and craftsmanship.
Here is an apt description:
When designing his creations, he considers not only the piece’s final silhouette, but also the high level of Craft required to execute it. The surprise of the unexpected origins of his materials becomes the satisfying payoff for looking a little closer at his work. Described as, Craft or Sculpture, woven or welded, wood or wire, found or fabricated, this artist is truly dedicated to making cool stuff out of stuff.
Nontraditional materials are at the heart of Aaron’s work. Reclaimed street sweeper bristles and resawn hardwoods, once destined for the landfill, are transformed into woven skins on his forms. Give him a thousand of something and he can usually figure something out, as he did with 2,500 wine corks that he made into a chair. Aaron’s art expresses the urgency to repurpose discarded materials in order to sustain our planet. He encourages us to look at the cast-off as potent and poetic, and reminds us that objects of inspiration lay all around us.
In Aaron’s words, “A material really has to speak to me for me to want to use it. Certainly, if you give me a thousand of something I can usually figure something out, but usually it has to have some deeper meaning for me. I look for the built-in equity of an object. A patina from use. Like a broom handle that has the paint worn off of it from years of sweeping. I like the evidence of hand. The feel and look of driftwood for example. Its time spent rolling in the surf, removing its rough edges. That speaks to me. "
“I think the level of craft one attains with their materials tells a lot about the person. I have tried over the years to attain a level of finish that is several rungs below a manufactured look. This is partially because of expediency as well as intent. I do not want my things to look machine made. Soulless. It is the evidence of hand that shows it's heart. True craft.”
“When someone approaches my work I hope it affects them on three distinct levels in this order. Design. Craft. Reclaimed. First when they see something I've made I want them to notice the Shape. The silhouette, how pleasing is the form. Then I want them to notice how well it was made. This is evident in the quality of the construction of weave. Then as they get closer, the payoff. They notice the material. What is it? Where did it come from? Oh, it's a recycled street sweeper bristle, or a......”
Aaron Kramer has mastered numerous technical skills in order to create his objects. For example, to create many of his works he has become an expert welder. His shop is loaded with tools, presses, saws... My point is this: We are all tradesmen in our own way, and Aaron’s work compels us to consider the level of craftsmanship we bring to our own media. We often talk of inspiration and idea generation, which is important. But how do you feel about your own level of craftsmanship? Are your core skills really serving you and what you create?
Thanks, Aaron, for reminding us of the value that technical acumen brings to the creation of quality work.