Bruce Paul Fink’s sculpture ranges from small-scale home and garden features to expansive gates, railings, and entryways. Deftly combining realistic castings, sinuous lengths of twisting metal, patterned cutouts, and richly textured reliefs, Fink’s work often reflects his reverence for nature. He recently shared some thoughts about becoming an artist, the nature of commission work, and his “high-tech green” studio.
Tell us how you got started as an artist.
I apprenticed with a sign painter at thirteen and had my own business by fifteen, which financed a degree in industrial design and fine art from the University of Illinois. Upon graduation I found I was on Joe McCarthy’s 1950s blacklist for being a registered conscientious objector and could not be employed in my first-choice opportunities. It was a gift that led to focusing more on painting and sculpture, and eventually to designing and constructing a one-man foundry for casting bronze and working in other media. That led to sales, commissions, and head teaching positions at two colleges before continuing as a full-time searching, loving, creating, sharing, discovering, freer me.
What’s one thing you’d like design professionals to know about how to best work with artists on a commission project?
If a commission principle limits the artist to strict duplication of a proposed drawing or prototype, it reduces their creative potential to copied craftsmanship and manufacture. A commission taking nine months is better expressed with nine months of creative refining, as opposed to a few days of planning and nine months of cold execution. When architects or agents allow for more variations and freedom, they encourage the artist’s best results. I often am given that opportunity these years, and go out of my way to express gratitude to those giving it. It results in a win-win for all.
Do you incorporate green practices in your artwork?
My present studio/foundry is as high-tech green as deemed practical. Most large kilns, furnaces, and machinery were designed and constructed from discarded scrap for my individually configured, earth-bermed, solar-heated life environment. The various media I use absorb large amounts of recycled plastics, and the crucible melts three hundred pounds of bronze per pour, often from scrap. The lost wax investment molds are fired limestone and beach sand which, when crumbled, help reclaim the acid-rich forest soil, and this wooded property affords a surplus for fine home building, woodwork, and supplementary kiln firewood.