U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman interviews American Artist Eric Fischl

Prior to his public lecture at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, American artist and Contemporary Conversations feature speaker, Eric Fischl, sat down to talk with U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman.

Full Transcript

0:01 Renowned American artist Eric Fischl was in Ottawa September 8-11, 2015,
0:07 as the third speaker in the Contemporary Conversations speaker series.
0:12 The series, hosted by Ambassador Bruce Heyman and Mrs. Vicky Heyman,
0:16 connects Canadians to American artists through public, moderated discussions,
0:20 and is made possible through partnerships with the
0:23 U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies Program, the National Gallery of Canada,
0:28 and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
0:32 Welcome. Glad to have you.
0:34 Thank you Bruce, good to be here.
0:35 Good to see you. So how did art ever begin in your life? What was it?
0:42 Did you parents have an influence, or, what was it, at the very beginning?
0:47 I actually came to art late.
0:50 It was not a part of our lives, it was something that I didn’t do as a kid,
0:57 I wasn’t sort of, off drawing all of the time
0:59 or anything like that I was more doing sports in high school,
1:06 girls and sports and other things.
1:09 I flunked out of college, took some time off, and then I went back to school
1:16 at a junior college in Phoenix, Phoenix Community College,
1:21 and I took art classes because I figured nobody fails art right?
1:26 So, if you are bad you get a C and so I took art classes,
1:33 very naïvely and found immediately a connection to it and what,
1:41 part of that was two things I hadn’t expected.
1:45 One, was that it was the first time in my life I could concentrate,
1:49 and the second was it was the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid of being alone.
1:54 And those two things made me feel like even if I am lousy I am going to do this the rest of my life.
2:01 And so here you are in Canada.
2:04 How was that transformative for you in your world and how did it impact your art?
2:12 I can’t say enough about how important Canada, the experience there was for me.
2:17 I was a young artist struggling to find my voice which took me three years here
2:25 to kind of go through a lot of changes and exposures
2:31 and things like that to begin to see who I am as an artist.
2:37 So it was very important from that point of view.
2:41 So tell me a little bit about your approach and how you think about the art
2:47 that you are creating and that you created throughout this cycle.
2:51 I think about it in terms of creating experience which is meaningful, and, I,
2:56 as a painter and a sculptor I use those because I am so connected to it, as ways of organizing stimulation.
3:06 It is how I can tell myself what I have experienced in either the moment or in the course of my life
3:19 and I don’t predetermine what the work is, it is more like each work is a kind of a journey
3:26 that I move through to get to a kind of clarity.
3:32 And it comes from the process of association, this image, this person, this situation,
3:41 moving it around until it forms a kind of cohesive moment
3:49 that is full of meaning, pregnant with meaning, I think.