June 21, 2024


You are Your Only Limit

‘A new working day for sculpture’: Quantum artist displays on profession

4 min read

By the time Julian Voss-Andreae ’04 arrived in Portland, he was 29 decades previous, spoke some English — but not fluently — and would shortly grow to be a father. 

He’d just immigrated from Germany. His track record was steeped in physics, but as he sought to go after his longtime fascination in art, he didn’t thoroughly drop in either discipline. He had no plan what he wanted to do. 

But his to start with calendar year style and design course at Pacific Northwest School of Art nudged him in the way of the quantum sculptures that have given that develop into his signature: significant-scale, stainless steel human figures that can weigh 1000’s of lbs . but simultaneously vanish into thin air, will work that have grow to be public landmarks in 30 spots and enchant viewers almost everywhere from Taiwan to Azores and Minnesota to Miami. 

Bridging the worlds of artwork, technology and science has broadened his get to. A scholar and writer as effectively, Voss-Andreae has captured the desire of dozens of artwork journals, tutorial papers, and science and technology books during his profession. 

Even so, he claimed he only turned actually sought after about a few a long time ago. A Reddit publish on his sculpture, “A Disappearing Act,” went viral and led to a 2018 Insider attribute that drew millions of sights. 

“I was a total outsider,” he claimed. “But I manufactured my possess niche and I was able to make a name for myself in unconventional techniques.” 

Early and critical acclaim

Voss-Andreae didn’t entirely respect the worth of uniting his interests in science and artwork until eventually his initial 3D layout assignment, when he noticed a further pupil chop up a 10-foot piece of lumber and type it into a smaller, limited ball. 

It was an epiphany: Voss-Andreae was struck by its similarity to the actions of protein chains as they twist into 3-dimensional configurations, so he wrote a computer software plan that could flip protein structural data into chopping guidance that would make it possible for him to construct sculptures of proteins. 

“I like to get the job done with my hands, and I was genuinely intrigued,” he claimed. “With the technologies out there now, like 3D printing and scanning, I recognized it was a new day for sculpture.” 

Among the his early works is a crimson alpha helix sculpture dedicated to Linus Pauling, the famed Portland chemist and two-time Nobel Prize winner. Recognizing Pauling’s relationship to Portland and his discovery of the spiral protein construction was so remarkable to Voss-Andreae, he arrived at out to the house owners of Pauling’s childhood household on Hawthorne Boulevard and proposed the sculpture.  

“All I wished to do is make this piece,” he explained. “They compensated for the materials, typically the metal and the powder coating. I donated my labor. It was 10 feet tall and that grew to become component of my thesis venture.”

By the time Voss-Andreae graduated, his work had appeared in many locations in the Portland place, Washington point out and even Art Basel in Miami. He commenced working full time in his garage-turned-studio, grinding out new sculptures for a growing quantity of exhibitions with a welder his spouse acquired for his birthday.

Ultimately, his assignments outgrew the house. A single function, a three-stranded metal rope construction based on the collagen protein, was so tall he experienced to hook it on the leading of a road pole to work on. Eight several hours of welding and grinding every working day drove his neighbors nuts, so he rented a low-cost studio close by, he reported.

Acquiring achievement — and a thick skin 

Need for Voss-Andreae’s do the job commenced to expand, but he experienced to press himself really hard to continue to keep reaching out. Shy and horrible at networking, he struggled with the marketing and advertising aspect of art — competition is so high, and it is so difficult to get your foot in the doorway, he mentioned. 

“You have to be so thick-skinned,” he reported. “What I acquired soon after a several decades of heartbreak is that the only trick is to preserve applying to new points. Be in the upcoming — wherever do you want to go with artwork? You just cannot appear back on the alternatives you didn’t get. It will devastate you.” 

His initially significant breakthrough transpired in 2006. A sculpture of sliced stainless steel he developed for a gallery in Sunlight Valley, Idaho, led to “Quantum Male,” an 8-foot-tall walking gentleman composed of much more than 100 vertical metal sheets, and related is effective he carries on to build currently. Now he has some assist — a group of 7 workforce grind, sand and form the metal sheets for him in his 6,000-sq.-foot Sellwood studio though he manages the designs and paperwork. 

Really serious tension has dogged him all over his career, from not sensation self-confident about his math competencies to wanting to know if his sculpting talents were being solid adequate, but he kept pushing and pushing, and he under no circumstances compromised on his perseverance to perform total time as an artist. At 51, he’s not confident what his subsequent techniques are. He’s formulated passions “beyond sculpture and art, in what can be called spirituality,” he reported. 

Till then, the tasks retain coming: a commission for a Moscow museum, two gallery sculptures and back again orders that can last but not least transfer ahead — along with interest in public operates. Previous year, when the entire world was locked down, he recorded his ideal fiscal yr at any time. 

“It can be such a combined bag,” he claimed. “I’m exceptionally grateful.”

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