Using Gypsum Board to Create Masterpieces
Massachusetts-based artist utilizes gypsum board in ways never done before.
Five years ago sculptor Janos Stone discovered gypsum board by walking past some scraps near a building site, and he’s been pushing the limits of the material in his sculptures ever since. What is a common product used by contractors daily, is very unique to artists.
“I brought it to my studio and started to play with it. I realized you could cut and snap it, stack it, carve it and really quickly I knew it would be a great sculpture material and solve all the criteria I was after both conceptually and physically,” Stone says.
TRADE SHOW GALLERY
Debuting his gypsum board designs to the construction industry at this year’s INTEX Expo, Stone was commissioned by National Gypsum to produce an exhibit showcasing his art and the wide range of capabilities gypsum board has to offer.
The partnership between National Gypsum and Stone began in 2010 and was the first of its kind for the company, says marketing manager Renee Cieslikowski.
“He made a call to NGC looking for assistance with a project he was working on and his call was forwarded to me,” she says. “His work sounded intriguing and an obvious fit so I helped him out with the project he was working on and then commissioned him to produce the four pieces for the show.”
At the time of their initial phone conversation, Stone was looking for gypsum to build a large-scale sculpture entitled, Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology is Indistinguishable From Magic; a 990 inch by 140 inch by 22 inch 3-D sculpture built using 112 pieces of 3-foot by 3-foot gypsum polyhedrals. The sculpture also displays hundreds of images of the night sky as seen from continents all over the world. National Gypsum continues to work with Stone to provide him gypsum for future projects.
One of Stone’s sculptures from the INTEX show is now on display at National Gypsum’s corporate headquarters and the three larger pieces are on display at their Mt. Holly manufacturing facility, Cieslikowski says.
“National Gypsum is committed to the arts and holds an annual fund drive for the local Arts & Science Council—we see it as being good stewards of the community and a great form of education,” she says.
The artist and National Gypsum brainstormed what concepts they were after for the display at INTEX and it became clear they wanted to showcase the versatility and strength of gypsum board, he says. Utilizing Sketchup, a 3-D modeling program, Stone was able to make their vision a reality and plan out all the details.
“I came up with a few different project proposals that showcased the flexibility [of drywall], so using carving, printed images, and referencing technology was where the large mobile tag came together as a hybrid of ideas,” Stone says.
At INTEX, Stone created three wall sculptures, and one sphere shaped piece, all of which took him weeks to complete, incorporating multiple creative processes like carving, and including the transportation boxes he must personally create to safely transport every piece.
One wall installment was an actual QR Code, so show-goers could scan the creation with their smart phone, and be directly taken to National Gypsum’s website. This piece had to be very precise in order to imitate a QR Code commonly produced by a computer. For it to function properly and at multiple angles, Stone had to be very precise.
“I was incredibly careful ahead of time, and had all the paint mixed especially for it. It had to be perfect to a 16th of an inch or else it wouldn’t work,” Stone says. “I built a smaller one in my studio to test, and it worked, so while creating the larger wall piece, I just had to be precise with proportions and colors.”
Another sculpture presented at INTEX showed pyramid like structures affixed to the wall, on one side, the images were a chronological step-by-step of the entire process of making wallboard from mining to stacking. The other side featured an electron microscope image of a gypsum crystal, Stone says.
“Some people may have found it a little crazy but they seemed really into it. They couldn’t believe you could do that with gypsum board, but that’s the point of why we did. I got some interesting questions about carving it.”
The response from those at INTEX was interesting for Stone because he typically displays his work in art galleries, not trade shows.
“I got all kinds of responses and it was cool because everyone in the room knows gypsum board really well and knows how it’s made,” Stone says. “By far the response was really positive and National Gypsum took a chance to showcase it.”
Stone originally studied at the notable Rhode Island School of Design and attained his masters of fine art from Boston University.
Based out of Cambridge, Mass., he works between man-made and computer generated sculptures and incorporates 3-D printers, while making comparisons between the universe and the internet. Currently, he is developing a mobile phone app so everyone can have the ability to develop 3-D images, called Mecube; much of his work incorporates his interests in education and 3-D in one way or another.