John Taylor
EVENT: Drop whatever you're doing and go to Garde Rail Gallery, 4860 Rainier Ave S, 760-3720, to see Taylor's ships, built from junk he finds and that his friends give to him. I'm not kidding. Go now. Through Aug 24.

You wrote: "I never felt as though I belonged to this time, and I still feel somewhat homeless in it." Does your work sit you more firmly in the past, or is it a kind of bridge to the present--you know, using modern detritus to make old vessels? "The work is more the expression of the homelessness, and maybe doesn't sit, but drifts. It is connected to the past the way memory is connected to the past. There isn't a physical connection anymore, and the ship is designed to be the link, at best. Still, it's not a Luddite celebration of the past, but more like a backwards photograph I'm trying to develop in a darkroom."

How do you determine what you will and will not do to a piece of material? How much will you alter it to suit your work's need? Or do you let the material drive the work? "I'll do anything I need to achieve the reality of how I feel and what I think should be seen, or felt. There is some sanctity in original surfaces, and they can be humbling in their beauty, but creating the whole piece is more important than any of the parts. Therefore, I may do anything to the piece, which may include chiseling, hammering, using an ax, sawing, drilling, breaking, scissoring, soaking in mud, rubbing with tar.... At other times, I simply leave behind all the dust, dirt, debris, nails, seaweed, grass, marine shells, and bird feathers that might be naturally on the piece, or that accumulate through the construction process. In that way, the piece is always accepting, or open for reception. The material, then, has to be balanced into the work, and it is often suggestive of certain things, but it has to make friends with everybody else."

Do you see a relationship between the use of found junk and the ships? The decay of material, the decay brought on to old boats by time? "The junk will always have an appeal to me all its own.... Because this material feels so strong for me, I think of it as the broadcast mechanism that is best for the ships. I like to think that if the ship is falling apart, people will put it back together in their minds. I like the edge where things can be un-shiplike, but still be a ship, like recognizing in a wreck what something originally was. For example, if you go to the Custer Battlefield, what's there to see? No Indians, no cavalry, no scattered guns and arrows, just headstones and grass, but it can still be moving."

Support The Stranger