Wes Bruce is a NorCal native and current resident of San Diego. His body of work ranges from simple pencil drawings and paintings, to life-size forts that people of all ages have enjoyed.
- Your recent show “Structures Poetry Humans” was a very thoughtful work and took a long time to compose. What was your intent for the show and what was the actual outcome? Well with it being a year-long project…I had a lot of different intentions with it, but the absolute bottom-line intention was to creatively document the connections between people and structures. Additionally, I wanted to see the effect of Time as a metaphor on a building as well as on a person. And the project ended up being focused on individual stories that were commonplace, things that were average or ordinary. The structure started out as a co-protagonist to the whole idea but ended up being a supporting character to the poetics that happen to people everyday.
- Was that your idea when you started out, or did the idea come as you went? It got a lot more defined and concentrated as it happened….but it got more confusing too. ‘Cause when I started it felt like I was holding onto a couple strings and I knew what was going to be on the end when I pulled ‘em in…but it drastically changed and felt like I was holding a million strings by the end of it. Eventually it made sense in hindsight, but I kinda felt like I was following the wake of an idea.
- Your ideas for a project seem to come naturally, but do you ever find yourself forcing inspiration? Yeah definitely. I think it ends up being like inhaling or exhaling, where sometimes you’re taking in inspiration…whether it’s from things you’re seeing, from conversation, or from something you’ve read. And then there’s the pause between inhaling and exhaling. When you exhale, you just make a lot. And I usually work in big spurts, I have a hard time working on a batch of drawings over a month, I’ll usually make all the drawings in like a week….it’s kinda like binge-drawing.
- How long is it in between the projects you work on? Depends on the scale of the project. There’s usually always something small that my mind wants to gravitate towards, and it’s been a cool discovery process to see what I count as Art…it’s been a big part of my artistic journey. Especially getting married with Em, a big part of our story is letting go of making art in a “strictly art” context and thinking of Art as a good meal with friends or a good conversation. So……it’s all the time. My goal is to have that process of intake and of outtake, but let some things have their season and let other things rise up with that.
- Are you the type of person who has trouble with changes, like saying goodbye to friends? Yes and no. Em and I are trying to figure that out together right now, what this next year is going to look like during this transition. Moving places has usually been pretty easy for me transition-wise, because I really enjoy packing things. I enjoy the act of spacially organizing, but I don’t always allow myself time to emotionally process.
- How did you view life as a child? (long pause) I think a lot of the things that I’ve done in life with art have almost come on accident. I’ve kinda captured a feeling of childhood, and when I started building forts, that wasn’t something I thought I would be doing for the next few years. That happened right after I was making paintings….I couldn’t make any more paintings, so then I started making things that were physically made out of story pieces. And when I couldn’t do that anymore I made a fort up at a summer camp, all kid-based. It was the most important thing I’d ever made. Em and I are trying to figure out what it is to be adults right now, and I think a lot of the best stuff is when we let things stay simple and try to feel most like ourselves. A lot of that has to do with ties to home, the things that we bring out in each other, whether or not it has anything to do with Art. But with the allegory of childhood, I think it references trying to be yourself in the best context. (Em offers me tea) I should say this though: Em and I both had really good childhoods, and so I can reference it like that, but it would be a totally different story if we had different childhoods. I think you can try and get back to certain things if you have something to reference back to. I don’t have to react against negative things….I have some friends that would never make art that referenced childhood because it’d be too painful or awful.
- How does negative experience influence your work, or do you not let it? That’s a lot of what “Structures Poetry Humans” was…..giving voice to some of those other areas. For the most part I’m a positive person, I’m optimistic, and typically I’ve made art that voiced more of that side. But we had some stuff happen in 2012 that was applicable to that…we had to figure out how to grieve and how to mourn over those things. The structure up at LUX was really intimidating to people, and it was supposed to be, because it was supposed to let those elements of grieving and mourning take their own voice…so visually it was on the darker spectrum.
- How would you explain the relationship between pursuing your dreams and assuming responsibility? That shifts and changes as well. What I wanted to do with Art a couple years ago is completely different from what I want to do now. I wanted to try to make Visual Art full-time, which I’ve been able to do and want to continue with…but after getting married and figuring that out together my definition of Art is more lucid. I just want to act creatively and have more connection with people. If either responsibility or following a passion is going to exist they have to be tied together, they can’t be independent of each other or they won’t survive. There’s certain responsibilities that act themselves out with a higher priority than me making anything, and that’s exciting because I didn’t know what that’d look like.
- If you could only use one of your senses, which would you choose and why? I would probably pick sight. A couple years ago I would’ve said touch, so I could still make things. But if I could only pick one for the rest of my life I’d want to be able to observe. I would feel more myself if I were able to see friends and watch birds and see seasons change.
- Has making this art allowed you to become more honest, or have you always been an honest and vulnerable person? I have been an honest person but other peoples’ reactions to my work cause conversation, and that has helped me be more openly vulnerable. Though it probably comes with age too. The frequency at which you are vulnerable will affect your ability to go further into that well, and to stay fresh with it.
by Laura M. Burris