Mason Mummery is a Sculpture / Installation grad from OCAD U whose sense of humour is reflected in his caricature-like sculptures and drawings. I sat down with Mason and asked him a few questions while he worked on his art slingshot here at XPACE.
Jessica Cappuccitti: When did you first become interested in sculpture?
Mason Mummery: In first year I took some mixed media and colour exploration classes which were pretty open to using things that were unconventional so I started using plasticine and sculpting with that, and just kind of fell in love with it – like the immediacy of it and the ease with which you can sculpt with it. Plasticine has its drawbacks but it was a good starting point for me to learn what I like about sculpture and what I like about the medium. I can be somewhat impatient with some things and I don’t like to wait for things to dry in molds so I usually use oven baked clays like Sculpey so I can sculpt it immediately and then it’s ready. I usually tweak my projects in ways that will allow me to continuously work. But I also do bronze sculpture and that’s a kind of slow process. I do more realistic, figurative or traditional styles in bronze but I like the funny, light-hearted caricatures a lot.
JC: Tell me about the work you are doing here at XPACE during your residency.
MM: Originally the idea was to make a catapult that launched sculptures into the wall but it has evolved into a slingshot that launches it – there were a few technical problems with the catapult but the slingshot will do the trick. I made some caricature figures out of rubber that will be launched at canvas that will be mounted on the wall. This will allow people the opportunity to get their hands on the art and thus affect the final product of the work. Whoever wants to play can mess around and leave their mark on it.
JC: Are the sculptures going to have paint on them?
MM: Yes, they’ll be dipped in paint – whatever colours people want to use, they can slather on and whip it at the wall.
JC: What are the sculptures made of?
MM: One is dragon’s skin – a casting rubber and the other is latex. I was experimenting with the materials and the process. I had never made a mold before so a lot of this has been trial and error. There were a lot of road blocks but I learned a lot. I had wanted the opportunity to try some things that I was less familiar or comfortable with so I tried to make this time a learning experience as well as a time to work on an art project that I have been thinking about for a while.
MM: Dissecting every sketchbook I have and taking out all of the pictures and collaging them onto here (the canvas that people will launch the sculptures at). This is going to become a very temporal piece because it’s going to change every time someone else comes and every time somebody launches something, it will essentially erase a page or a drawing. I’m a little sad...
MM: Yeah, it’s kind of strange. I don’t know why I decided to do this either – I felt like it was a good idea. I had to raise the stakes a bit too. I like putting people on the spot, so maybe they’ll think twice about launching it. I like that weird anxiety that might take place – I’m thinking that they may get excited about the idea of launching the sculpture at the canvas but then they’ll realize that they may have taken something away from the piece. They are still adding but also removing or taking something away. I think that is art, that’s what it’s really about – that people bring something to it and will affect it and change it in whatever way they choose. I am curious to see how people respond to it and if they still feel compelled to launch at it given the opportunity. So we’ll see whether excitement and spontaneity win over critical thought and artistic appreciation.
JC: Has this residency made it easier to experiment with your work?
MM: I think the best thing about this is having the opportunity to showcase an artwork. There’s something about having an art show and being given the space that helps to switch gears a bit to become more serious about it. Anyone can do it on their own but once you actually have an end goal in mind or some sort of opportunity given to you with a time frame, you do your best to use it. This has certainly pointed me in the right direction.
JC: Where do you see your practice going from here?
MM: It’s funny... the more humorous sculptures have always kind of run in tandem with my bronze sculptures. I’ve sold a few of the bronze sculptures since school ended and I have been approached about commissions for a few larger scale works. So as long as those things go well then I’ll have that going. That will be like the hand that feeds my funny projects. I think I’m more passionate about the funny stuff but I do also really like the opportunity for live studies that the bronze sculptures provide. I think the funny stuff is where I see my practice steering. It’s always taken a lot of heat – it didn’t feel like it was as accepted as the bronze work while I was going through school. So now I can just embrace it and not have to worry about that.
JC: How do you see this residency influencing or affecting your future work?
MM: I think the best thing I’ve learned from this is to not be inhibited in any way. I think what will come next is hard to say right now but I’m sure it will be something along these lines. My work is progressing one step at a time. I think scale is something I’ll probably play with – going big! And that’s another thing; I have a particular scale that I work in. Most of my stuff is in the range of 6 inches to 12 or15 inches in height, just because storage and time are often issues. Now that I’m done school, time is on my side so I can get projects going and not have to worry so much about deadlines. I think that’s something I haven’t dealt with enough, is just being able to give it the time it needs.