Artist Spotlight: Jesse Larson

We sat down with Creative Collaborator Jesse Larson to talk about his lighting installation and associated paintings on the gallery level. Read on to learn where he found inspiration for the pieces as well as what types of challenges he ran into on his journey to complete them.

What was your inspiration for this project?

It was really just the chance to be involved with something as unique and creative as SPARK! I knew President and C.E.O. Beverly Davis had some great artists involved, so I had to step up my game a little to be in the same room as the other pieces of work.

Did you collaborate with anyone on this?

No, I just took in the art that was being done by the other artists. The themes I saw were water, metamorphosis, and flight. I came up with an idea and sent Ms. Davis the sketches and she said “OK, do it!”

What did you envision and did that vision come to life?

I based the four piece painting on the idea of a “galactic metamorphosis of water.” It represents the stability of planets and solar energy traveling through the depths of deep space. This is where ice or water, in its physical state, melts into the liquid necessary to sustain life. That’s the short version of my idea. I think I brought that to life, but more importantly I think people can look at it and make up their own story.

There is a 5th painting that was an after-thought. Ms. Davis asked if I could do one more piece to fill the last wall space so I did another painting with the idea of earth being part space station and part Death Star.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

For me it was keeping the designs in proportion. This is the biggest piece of work I’ve ever done. I’ve mostly done stuff for logos or smaller paintings. I like tight lines and intricate details and sometimes I start to see things in small portions. With suspended pieces of this size, I really had to think through “what will people see?”

How long did it take?

Considering that I didn’t work on it every day, I would guess 40 hours.

Tell me about your creative process.

For me it’s opportunity. I take what people like or what they ask for and then turn it into what they really meant, but couldn’t see yet! I like the challenge of “can I do it?” I’ll sometimes do things that I’ve never done before, like the large paintings, and while I’m doing new things I’ll see something else in that work and keep it on the back burner for a new project. My creative process revolves around what’s possible when you have no idea how things are going to turn out. Trust me, I’ve had to get really creative to save a whole piece before!

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your other work in the SPARK! space?

I’ve never lit up a creative space before, but I saw the opportunity. I had some idea about lighting and what I envisioned the lighting to look like, but I’d never actually done it to this scale. I knew SPARK! was looking at other options in terms of lighting companies. So I did a little research on the different kinds of lights and what they do and just raised my hand and said “I can do it” and here we are.

I also donated the dragonfly that is hanging from the gallery ceiling. I got the idea of making this big sculpture a few months back while I was making a piece for another event. I thought it would be cool to make because the colors are infinite and the lines of a dragonfly are so intricate. I had no idea it would be so much work. Then I thought, “what do you do with a dragonfly that has an 8-foot wingspan?” You give it to SPARK!

Come see Jesse’s work anytime SPARK! is open to the public. Check out our calendar of events to plan your visit.