Josie Mai, Associate Professor of Art at MSSU, asked Jorge Leyva a few questions about the show:
JM: What’s up with the container theme? Houses and vessels, seemingly empty containers. What is inside? What do you want the viewers to fill them in with, with their eyes?
JL: I like to think of my work as extensions or evolutions of their continuous development. I would not want my art to become too literal, that it would lose the viewer’s immediate response. But you are correct, these pieces are about vessels, or cradles if you may. If they must contain an essence of the viewers response, I would like it to be hope. I believe most living creatures, human or animal, yearn to find a cradle of safety in their lives. To have something to belong in, to have something to fight for. I like my vessels to exist in environments with precarious footing, or on the verge of falling, but yet supported by a much stronger desire. My houses form mountains, they live in river edges, they dwell in the middle or at the top of trees, but hopefully they remind us of life, and that is very hopeful.
JM: Now that the show has been up for a couple weeks, what would you have done differently regarding individual pieces, editing, adding more, or about the installation itself? Are there pieces you would have added or taken away? Was the installation a collaboration with Spiva, or did you both work together to install the space?
JL: I wish I had made a few more pieces for this show, but isn’t this our eternal discontent? To never have done enough? Overall I am happy with the exhibit; I believe more may not have been necessarily better, but in valance I would have liked to see a big metal house on its own. Brent and I just helped with placing of some works in the gallery because of their size and weight, but the exhibit was wonderfully curated and installed by Cleo Copeland, Jo Mueller and Shaun Conroy.
JM: Can you talk about the importance of presentation and display of 3D objects; is the presentation and space as important as the object?
JL: I believe there is a huge difference in the use of gallery space between a two and three dimensional exhibit. A 3D piece, whether it is a wall hanging or a free standing piece, will need more space to be exhibited properly. I believe that giving an artwork the proper environment and space will greatly enhance its appeal. It is also important to note that installing a 3D show is extremely demanding for a curatorial team. And to fully appreciate a piece of sculpture, they need an environment in which the viewer can freely move around the piece. It is this need in fact, that makes some blue chip galleries use an entire room for one sculpture. So, is the presentation and display space for 3D objects important? I should say yes, it is most important, perhaps as important as the piece itself.
JM: Any advice for Joplin’s young artists?
JL: I would like to pass along some advice given to me by two very well-respected artists. From Nathan Oliveira, “Go to the studio and work, work, and work. Time will be your best critic.” And from Viola Frey, she told me this, “If you make a piece of art thinking of a price for it, then the art part has failed.” They not only impacted me with their advice, but encouraged me to take responsibility for what I do. My advice to a young Joplin artist is this: look for someone to believe in, and he/she will teach you to believe in yourself. Bonus advice for all artists young and old, why bounce your ideas all over your studio walls and get no response, when it is much more rewarding to bounce them off your peers and be greatly rewarded for that; it is called collaboration.