RUMSON – “Today, I am sharing exhibit space with you,” international contemporary artist Dumitru Gorzo recently told students at Holy Cross School as he looked about the stage that displayed 400 “heads,” copied from his work.
The project was part of the school’s art appreciation program. “I like very much what you have done,” Gorzo said.
The Romanian artist, who has an upcoming solo show in Cologne, Germany, took time from his work to speak with the students about his art and to answer their questions during three assemblies designed to broaden the students’ understanding of the creative process and art as a career.
“Sometimes, when I am working, it is a dance between me and the tools and the surface,” said Gorzo about his process.
“Sometimes, it is a fight. Sometimes, it is just playing. I am never sure what will be the result.”
Most student wanted to know how old Gorzo was when he realized he wanted to be an artist. “I decided when I was 12,” he said. “I started the way you started now. I did a copy of a particular artist. My father was impressed and it was very hard to impress him … I’m happy and I get the reaction and I thought, ‘yes, this is what I want to do.’”
Fifth-grader Kathyrn Johnston of Fair Haven, who is an aspiring artist, asked, “What advice would you give a struggling artist?”
Gorzo responded firmly, “If you decide to do it, just do it. It doesn’t matter what other people are saying. You have to continue. It’s hard work and there are difficult moments, but there are other moments that pay 10 times.”
Also taking part in the assembly program were Robin Parness Lipson, founder and director of the New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art (NJMoCA), and Irina Protopopescu, director of the Slag Gallery in Brooklyn which represents Gorzo in the United States. NJMoCA presented a 2012 public art exhibition in Red Bank, entitled “Heads!” that displayed 53 of Gorzo’s gigantic works.
The students were surprised that the artist risked putting his work on the street where it was vulnerable to graffiti.
“I want to see what I would attract,” he explained. “I call this my flypaper. Sometimes, people add their own interventions. In the end the people work for me because I create more interaction.”
The “Heads!” exhibit inspired Holy Cross parent, Deborah Black of Atlantic Highlands, to use examples of Gorzo’s work for a two-week intensive art appreciation program she teaches at the school. She contacted Lipson, who volunteered to arrange for the artist to speak to the children at Holy Cross.
“Education is a huge part of NJMoCA,” Lipson said. “And this project was so exciting.”
Protopopescu agreed, “The display was amazing. It’s just impressive to see the interest, the hard work, the passion.”
According to Black, the assembly presentation demonstrated the full circle of becoming a professional artist. “A boy discovers his passion. A gallerist shows interest and museums mount exhibitions and the artist gives back,” she said. “I encourage our students to be what they want to be, work to be good at it and pass their good fortune along.”