Tom Fruin: Stain Glass Artist
BROOKLYN IN COLOUR
Tom Fruin is a true urban artist, taking everyday objects and turning them into something new and unique which adds to their surroundings and environment. Amidst the grey, his stain glass works bathe their concrete surroundings in colour.
CURATOR KARINA EASTWAY | DESIGNER TOM FRUIN | PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY TOM FRUIN | COUNTRY USA
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED NOW?
I'm originally from LA, Manhattan Beach, California. I grew up near the beach. Now I’m based in Brooklyn, New York.
WHICH ONE OF YOUR INSTALLATION PIECES HAS HAD THE BIGGEST REACTION FROM VIEWERS AND WAS THAT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
I'd say the Watertower sculpture in Dumbo (New York) has had the largest community reaction. Situated on a rooftop, it is very visible but also blends in to the surroundings as a "water tower" on a rooftop in Brooklyn. It is basically hiding in plain sight which makes it fun to discover!
I've allowed many marriage proposals up there and a bunch of people have sent me pictures of their water tower tattoos. I'm really stoked that people have such a personal connection.
WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR THE WATER TOWER SERIES COME FROM?
Why I chose to make a water tower sculpture is it is round and made of wood and full of water - it's a stand-in for people: a humanizing element in an otherwise cold and hardened urban environment of glass and steel and concrete.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION AND MESSAGE BEHIND YOUR ‘HOUSE’INSTALLATION UNDER BROOKLYN BRIDGE?
The stain glass work is an extension of my "found object quilts" sewn-together from drug bags and trash collected in the public parks and housing projects of NYC. These "flags" are portraits of the neighbourhoods in which I collected the materials.
Each morning, I'd ride my bike out to the projects to collect the bags, making notes about what I found. I arrange the scraps to highlight whatever was unique or plentiful in that location, holding them together with tape before sewing them together.
The first piece in the stained glass "ICON" series is a house sculpture I made in Copenhagen called Kolonihavehus, a Danish word for a community garden shed. We used scraps collected from an abandoned acrylic manufacturing factory to make a colourful house with lights that radiated the lights out into the world.
The design and coloration is informed by the earlier work and the quilting aesthetic of combining disparate scrap materials to make a new whole, with connotations of family, security and warmth, just like a quilt.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
On July 13, my latest piece Odumak will be unveiled in a night-time sculpture park on the beautiful Korean island of Jeju. All the works in the park will be illuminated and my piece is situated on a platform floating in the middle of a lake. It is not yet instead but I'm really looking forward to seeing the reflections on the water.
This summer I'm finishing a piece for the New York's subway system, SAIL which will be 16 feet high. I’m still working on it but hopefully it'll be a symbol for smooth transport!
TOP TRAVEL TIP?
For a travel suggestion, the most amazing place I’ve been is the Alhambra in Spain. Just jaw-droppingly beautiful and inspiring on so many levels. No point in describing it, you just gotta go!
FINALLY, CAN YOU GIVE US A QUOTE THAT INSPIRES YOU?
I don't know the actual source but recently I’ve been thinking about an army general's advice to his soldiers: Make your bed in the morning, so you start your day accomplishing something and no matter how shitty your day is, at least you come home to a bed that's made!