Virtual Conversation with Artist Fred Eversley and Curator Kim Conaty

American sculptor Fred Eversley, creator of “Light, Space, Surface: Works from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,” joined curator Kim Conaty for a virtual artist conversation over Zoom on Saturday, February 12. The exhibition is being displayed in the Addison Gallery of American Art until March 20, 2022. After retiring from engineering at age 25, Eversley began his pursuit of art influenced by science and technology. His work is now exhibited in over 200 museums and galleries worldwide.

Eversley was first introduced to sculpting after working alongside artist Charles Maddox. The initial works he crafted under Maddox would lay as the foundation for his later artistic pieces to follow.

“There was an artist named Charles Maddox, and he offered to share his studio in return for me to engineer his sculptures committing to his thoughts. Casting multiple ways and conceptual planes of plastic, using the colors that I found on shovels, different types of materials, and using a special type of machinery to capture the colorfulness and subtlety of colors. They were powerful, as you see me using them, and they cover various shapes. They later became my first series of sculptures,” said Eversley.

Pieces in the exhibition investigate the understanding of the form, volume, presence, transparency, and absence of light. Eversley also explored novel mediums of art, experimenting with newly developed industrial materials including sheet acrylic, fiberglass, and polyester resin.

“’Light, Space, Surface’ draws on LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)’s deep holdings of this material, revealing the vibrancy and diversity of this aspect of American art history. Featured artists include Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Judy Chicago, Mary Corse, Fred Eversley, Robert Irwin, John McCracken, James Turrell, and Doug Wheeler, among others,” according to the Addison Gallery’s website.

As the curator of the exhibit, Conaty guided the audience in exploring Eversley’s artistry while providing context for his artwork. Conaty also expressed appreciation for the experience of presenting with Eversley.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun as a curator, putting on an exhibition together with Fred, these works are so fabulous to work with, and to be installing these works with Fred and thinking about how you can actually use the skylight. I feel like as curators we’re always trying to find ways to show work without having too much light on it, and here it was welcoming and dynamic and you want people to be able to walk around them from all angles and that was a very exciting project,” said Conaty.

In addition, Conaty led the virtual conversation and allowed the audience to learn more about Eversley. Conaty inquired about Eversley’s years as an engineer and his work experience in Venice, which was a turning point in his career.

“The president of this laboratory, his son, Steven, was one of my fraternity buddies at Carnegie Mellon. And he wanted me to come work for them and I was given the freedom to do special projects as opposed to doing normal day-to-day laboratory kind of things. I ended up designing the acoustic laboratories for NASA Houston, for both the APOLLO and GEMINI missions, and for the European Space Agency in Munich. I became one of the most knowledgeable people in the country for high intensity acoustic facilities, and they involved concentrations of acoustical energy to simulate the mechanical properties that a spaceship feels when it gets launched into space,” said Eversley.

Sean Winston-Luo ’24 expressed that the conversation was honest and provided insight into the exhibition. He commented on the contemporary element of Eversley’s work, noting that his exhibit feels fresh in comparison to older artworks.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to get exposure to interesting art, since not many schools have these types of exhibitions. I feel like working with light is a very modern idea, and I thought the exhibit felt open and natural. When I go to Europe, I go to the art museums, and they always have a lot of renaissance art. Especially at the Louvre, where there’s just roves of canvas paintings, it’s just the same old stuff. But I felt that this exhibit felt interesting and unconventional from the others,” said Lou.

William Suh ’24 felt inspired by the conversation and Eversley’s ability to innovate art from unconventional ideas. He contemplated on the possibilities for creating art from trivial artifacts that he has seen in his daily life.

Suh said, “My biggest takeaway was how the artist talked about the form of the art, where he used the example of an art experiment with water he did when he was young and how the shapes work. To see that such small observations can inspire him so much is also inspiring to myself. It makes me think about the amorphous things or other concepts that I have actually observed in real life and how that can be turned into art.”