The Visual Poetry of Fritz Horstman

While construction is underway on brand new facilities for the visual arts at Middlesex, Department Head Stacey McCarthy continues to bring engaging artists to campus to broaden students’ exposure to current work and to different perspectives, mediums, and creative processes. On January 12, 2018, Fritz Horstman joined Stacey, students, and faculty in the Danoff Recital Hall to show and discuss his thought-provoking work that ranges from videos and underwater photographs to small-scale and larger wooden sculptures.

“I’m an artist and educator and am generally interested in space and time,” Mr. Horstman said prior to showing projected images of his work. The first examples he shared of his conceptual explorations involved taking cross-sections of trees that had been cut down on his property, counting the annual rings, and selectively removing personally “important years” – sometimes one or an entire decade – in order to fill the groove with Styrofoam, beeswax, or acrylics. A different project replaced the sound on a video of a flowing river in Japan with a unique soundtrack: the voices of local people who were asked to mimic the familiar sounds of the river.

And with his finely detailed, wooden sculptures of building foundations or waterways, he creates “a special void moment” – the instant before the concrete arrives or water swirls into an eddy. “When are you going to pour?” is a question the artist is sometimes asked. “For that person,” Mr. Horstman remarked, “that is the moment of poetry, when the pouring happens.” For the artist, it is the moment just before.

He has found novel ways of capturing moments of many kinds as he focuses on “finding the poetry in visual form.” During an artist’s residency at the Arctic Circle, Mr. Horstman took pictures every five seconds with an underwater camera as it was raised to the surface from 100-feet down, ultimately creating a matrix of images showing the subtle variations in the water’s color and clarity. Intriguing works like these certainly suggested new ways to consider and question space and time – and made many look forward to the completion of the new Ishibashi Gallery, where such work will be exhibited.