When Ted Fullwood first used chenille sticks (otherwise known as pipe cleaners) while teaching art to a group of middle school students almost ten years ago, he became hooked. Since then, he has spent countless hours weaving together these flexible, colorful and fuzzy sticks that are best known for their use in children’s craft projects, not for creating large-scale sculptures.
He describes the pleasure of weaving as “going into the zone,” where his hands intuitively operate and his mind enters a meditative state to create his artwork.
Considering the low-tech weaving process and materials, it may seem surprising that the title of this show is Energy Machines. However, for Fullwood, the wildly abstract and colorful objects emit energy as a machine performs an activity. After all, he remarks, “if art is good, it will start to permeate energy to the people that view it. (While) a lot of that energy is just imagined, sometimes imagined energy is the best kind.”
Fullwood describes his aesthetic as excessive and obsessive, where “too much is never enough.” Throughout his life, he has created this way, whether in clay, text, mosaics or textiles.
Growing up in Palo Alto, he went to an alternative high school and spent all of his time in the ceramics studio. In college at UC Santa Cruz he studied Creative Writing. Though he admits he may not have been a great writer, he discovered great pleasure in using words and allowing language to spill out of his imagination and onto the page. When he moved into his home in San Jose, after he received his MFA at San Jose State, he embarked upon a huge project of covering the walls in his house with his own fantastically colored tiles.
While he considers this to be a work-in-progress, nearly every square inch of his home has been embellished. Working in this way and finding the place where his mind and hands “go into the zone,” Fullwood makes objects that are both wonderfully original and incredibly familiar.
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