and anxiety. “There was enough there to get my mind going,” Gonzalez says, a slight smile crossing his lips. In the mid-1970s, he met Ed Wilson, who taught sculpture at Binghamton University. Gonzalez eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Binghamton, where he returned in 1999 as a faculty member. Today, he says, he sometimes feels “good vibrations” while critiquing student work in his office, which used to be Wilson’s. Though Gonzalez came late to teaching, he values the one-on-one contact with students. “I help them develop a personal language in sculpture,” he says. “I’m trying to turn them into themselves.”
Binghamton University • BINGHAMTON RESEARCH • Winter 2014
Gonzalez says his own feeling for being an artist and making things, which began as a kid, still lives deep inside him. “It’s like I’m 60 going on 6 in some way,” he says. “That same thud of an idea and impulse I had as a child is something I never let go of. It’s still there, and I’m still making things from what I can find in my immediate environment.” He has adapted to that environment, especially the wintry grayness of the upstate valley that has been his home all these years. “Geographic location defines identity,” he says. “My work is saturated with time and the moments of my life. I remember the black-andwhite Twilight Zone qualities of the Binghamton diners, streets and train station growing up. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz was right when she said there is no place like home. But home sickness is not something you get just when you miss home. It is also something you get because you never left.” Don’t confuse Gonzalez’s strong roots with provincialism, though.
He spent time last summer touring the museums and galleries of London and has made other pilgrimages abroad. “New perspectives are always healthy, even for a self-proclaimed homebody,” he says. “When you stay in one place your whole life, time and space take on a tremendous weight. There is no place like home — and no place like the rest of the world.” The creative process
A new chapter in Gonzalez’s lifelong project on the personification of things might originate with something like an air filter from a car or a gas mask. He has a special fondness for objects that were designed to communicate and that are now useless. A telephone or speaker, for instance, could become the head of a new figure. Gonzalez generally begins with a welded metal armature, almost a template, with legs and arms. He wires objects onto this base, starting with the item or items that will form the “head.” “From there, I try to create a persona, an identity for the figure,” he says. He fills journals with possible titles for sculptures, and so sometimes he has a name in mind right from the start. “Stitch” features footballs with the stitching as a scar; several change purses were transformed into a piece called “Tabernacle,” suggesting an internalized sacred space. Often the source material can be identified immediately, but other figures challenge the casual observer to look more carefully. The head of a piece titled “Stir” was made from stirrups you’d use to ride a horse, but they’re obscured by the sculpture’s insect-like quality. Gonzalez wants the objects to be recognizable if you look at them long enough.
Published on Jan 14, 2014
In this issue of Binghamton Research, you’ll see how Binghamton University faculty members are capitalizing on Big Data’s potential to impro...