While visiting the Tohono Chul Park I happened upon a Cactus-Man that seemed to be growing right out of the ground. I immediately wanted to know who and how. How as in, how does one go from being a mild mannered citizen into someone who can sculpt amazing man plants?
The “who” is Paul Orzech…
Paul Orzech was born in San Jose, CA but spent most his childhood in Tucson, AZ. He attended college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ where he was awarded the NAU Centennial Sculpture Commission to celebrate the universities 100 year anniversary. Paul finished up his academic education with a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Afterwards, Paul worked for Tucson based wildlife sculptor Mark Rossi, which instilled a knowledge and love for animals. In 2003 Paul started to work for a fine art bronze foundry Metalphysic Sculpture Studio. Here Paul learned the value of craftsmanship and began to explore the many styles of expression present in his work. Paul also began showing in AZ, CO, and CA, which includes The Affaire in the Garden Show in Beverly Hills, CA and the Sculpture in the Park in Loveland, CO. Currently Paul resides in Providence, RI.
Mr. Orzech was kind enough to help me figure out the “how” by answering some of my questions…
SLOV: What or Who inspired you to try sculpting?
Orzech: I first tried sculpting in college. I was looking for something new to do. I had done sports and played trombone in high school marching bands and jazz bands. I had always loved school and learning, but when I went to college there was an emphasis on being something, having a career path. I began taking classes from a lot of different fields looking for that path. I eventually settled on taking art classes. I had always loved art as a kid. I would draw my favorite comic book characters. I would study the art in church for the hour I was their every week. My mother had always encouraged me to make art, but I was never trained in it or took it seriously until college.
Once I took those classes I was instantly in love. I loved every aspect of art: the history of it; the creative process; the way the world could be broken down into shapes, colors, positive and negative space. It was very exciting. The more art I made the more I found myself gravitating toward sculpture. I love the physicality of it, its ability to be worked in the round, three dimensions. Eventually I realized I was just better at it then the other types of art. It always came very naturally to me, so I just put more emphasis on sculpture, until it became my career.
SLOV: Do you plan a piece out in detail, or does it just happen?
Orzech: The method of making art really depends on the purpose. Some pieces I draw out a few sketches on paper, than make a quick clay model to work out the overall design. Other sculptures I kind of mash stuff around till I see something starting to take shape. I generally like to focus on a feeling or thought I want to get across. I feel there is a conversation happening between me and the material I am working with. That conversation often leads to a balance between the unknown voice in my heart, the limitations of my skills, and the materials I am working in.
SLOV: What is your favorite subject(s) to sculpt?
Orzech: My favorite subject would be the human form. I really tried to focus in on creating a feeling of movement. That movement is often very physical, but I also try to create a feeling of internal movement, a movement of the soul.
I feel the human form has the greatest range of expression, plus being human it only seems natural to sculpt ones self.
SLOV: What else in your life (besides sculpting) brings you joy?
Orzech: I would have to say my two year old daughter brings me great joy. Her enthusiasm for life is unparalleled.
Orzech: Cactus-Man is very important to me. People often feel disconnected from the earth and that is only natural given the way modern society is set-up. When we spend time in nature, especially in the desert, I feel nature invites us to let go of our stress. In that letting go we remember how much apart of nature we our. Cactus-Man is a reminder to let go and be at peace in the desert, even if it is just for a little while.
Thank you Paul for sharing your art. It is beautiful, creative, humorous, and there is certainly a feeling of movement in each piece.
If you would like to see more of Mr. Orzech’s work, visit his website.