Spring 2015 Education Program Perspective — Peter von Tiesenhausen, Guest Artist
Peter von Tiesenhausen
Spring 2015 Guest Artist
Peter von Tiesenhausen’ multidisciplinary practice includes painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, installation, event, video, and performance. His work often involves the community in which he is working and utilizes the materials to be found there. He has created several permanent and ephemeral public artworks throughout North America and in Europe and has works in many public and private collections.
He has exhibited and lectured widely across Canada as well as in Europe, the United States and Mexico. He has had over 50 solo and many group exhibitions, which have been widely reviewed and the subject of three national television documentaries including a one-hour award winning film “Elemental” produced in 2000 for “Adrienne Clarkson Presents”.
Peter von Tiesenhausen on Facebook
Why are you interested in creating work in response to a place/site?
I often work with locally sourced materials as they more effectively speak to the area in which I find myself. Just as I don’t prepare lectures or talks before I arrive so that the areas of focus can adjust as I meet my audience, I feel a true response to a place is found on or near the place.
The 800 year-old oak [on the property], the prehistoric mortars in the rock, the characters and current interests of the students—all must be experienced to get a sense of their essence. To have a preconceived notion of what to make, say, or do is so much less meaningful.
How did your practice and artistic interests complement the class focus?
My work is an attempt at being present, of a coming to know that how things are right now will never be again. Everything we do to the land has an effect and the signs of our passing can remain for millennia.
To have a few days on the amazing FOR-SITE land with a diverse group of interesting and creative people in the presence of rich natural and cultural histories was a wonderful opportunity for me, one who is often alone in the environment of the boreal forest of northern Canada.
Were you familiar with the site prior to the class? What aspects did you find most compelling, and why? Did you draw any parallels with places where you’ve worked before?
I had not been aware of [the FOR-SITE residency site] but have travelled widely and have worked in many different places. For me the highlights were the many traces of the indigenous cultures and the ancient nearby oak. As a recovered placer gold miner, the many long-term effects of the gold extraction industry—the diversion channel and polished river rock—were also of significant interest to me.
What is one impression that you took away from this experience?
It was encouraging to see the respect with which the land has been taken care of and the opportunity given to students to experience that land. The vision of the FOR-SITE founders and administration is commendable. Thank you to (executive director) Cheryl Haines, (program director) Jackie von Treskow, and (class instructor) Mia Feuer for including me in that experience.