Documentary About MACC’s First Artist-in-Residence Tonight
By Vanessa Wolf
Before becoming the MACC’s first artist-in-residence, Wes Bruce created an installation – a giant fort – at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.
The fort had an almost inexplicably profound impact on the artist as well as the community surrounding him.
A documentary about the piece, captured by award-winning filmmaker Bryan Bangerter, airs tonight at the MACC at 6 p.m. in the McCoy Studio Theater.
We talked to Bruce to learn a little bit more about his project, his art, and his experience here on Maui.
Maui Now: What got you interested in making forts as art?
Wes Bruce: I used to make a lot of paintings, but decided I wanted to put a hold on making art because I wasn’t enjoying it that much.
That summer I was part of the staff at a camp in Northern California near Yosemite National Park, and for our final staff meeting I build a huge cardboard igloo / honeycomb fort and we all spent the night in it. It was the most connective and true thing I had made. It felt worth making because of the human interaction that occurred within it.
After that summer I was asked to be in an art show in San Diego based on some paintings the curator had seen. I said that I didn’t want to make any more paintings, but I would be willing to make a fort. That was five years ago.
MN: What is the installation featured in the film about?
WB: I am working out of a metaphor I call an “inner architecture.” Each one of us keeps who we are in these metaphorical rooms within us: all of our past, present and potential futures, hopes, fears, relationships, joy and mourning. Picture being able to enter into rooms within yourself and finding places and experiences you might not have recalled for years. That’s that short version.
MN: What do I hope the viewer gets out of watching the film?
WB: I hope they realize who and what is important to their life story. I hope they are more curious about the world around them. I hope that a sense of wonder leaves with them.
MN: The press release also mentions the “emotional fallout of the project.” That sounds heavy. What are they talking about?
WB: My mom and dad had some tension as the project the film was about was deeply personal. It was about vulnerability and the risks that accompany it.
MN: How did you come to be MACC’s artist-in-residence?
WB: Neida Bangerter, the gallery director, asked if I would be interested in coming over and creating an exhibition with them. In order to do that logistically I realized I would have to be here for a few months because of the time it takes, and the labor-intensive nature of the art.
I have a background in education so we put that into the equation and figured out a calendar that would allow me to not only build the exhibition, but also get to hang out and empower some young artists and teach / learn from them.
MN: What are you enjoying the most about Maui?
WB: I love a lot about Maui. I love finding things the board of tourism wouldn’t want / expect me to see: the grungy corners of the Maui central base-yard, industrial back alleys in Wailuku, or the red-dusted Puunene church next to the sugar mill.
I find a lot to be curious about in these places. I love learning about the migration of different plants to Maui, and their journey through thousands of miles of open water.
I love conversations with folks who have lived here a long time and can recall old sugar camps, and villages and what life was like. And I love the wilder parts of Maui, as well: exploring steep gorges in Kipahulu, climbing trees, and witnessing the Pacific make its never ceasing approach to rocky shores.
MN: Are there any culinary surprises Maui introduced you to that you never knew about before living here?
WB: I love Opihi!
My friend Brook grew up in Haiku and introduced them to me when we were swimming in Makena. You can eat them straight off the rock (or so I’ve been told: haha). I love the salty flavor and interesting texture.
“A Film About a Fort” airs tonight at the MACC in the McCoy Studio Theater at 6 p.m.
The event is free to the public and will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker and the artist after the film.
Bruce’s exhibition “Taken By Wonder” will be in the Schaefer International Gallery September 8- November 2, 2013.
Have an idea for a fun, funny or thought-provoking story or topic? Get in touch: we want to hear from you. – Vanessa (@mauinow.com)