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Interview with Caleb Charland by Samuel Dodson

‘Apple Trees’ 2011

As he explores domestic space, from the basement to the backyard, Caleb develops his work through a sculptural process of experimentation. Combining his scientific curiosity with a constructive approach to making pictures, Caleb has produced and continues to create work which elaborate on his experiences of wonder. 

With a hectic summer of project work and exhibitions ahead, it is an honour to bring you the following interview with the brilliantly talented Caleb Charland. 

Is art your first love or do you have another passion? 

Art is. I spend most of my time making work, planning projects, etc. I often try to make work in the places I enjoy spending time. At the houses and backyards of my family and friends. Some projects require a lot of prep work, such as my apple orchard image…I had to make several hundred wire connectors to wire together apples on a tree to power LEDs. My friend was having people over to hang out in the backyard so I brought my supplies, got to hangout and still get a lot of work done.

I also really love music, I play guitar and sing and can tinker on bass and drums. I had sort of put it down for a while with graduate school but since this last fall I’ve been making an effort to play a few times a week. Its nice to have an alternate creative outlet to visual art, probably good for the brain and definitely good for the soul

Tell me about yourself, where you live and your background/lifestyle.


I was born in Bangor Maine in 1980, we moved away from that area for a while but I ended up attending my entire pre-college school in a town near there. I went to undergrad at MassArt in Boston then grad school in Chicago at SAIC. Its funny every time I’ve left Maine I’ve found my way back. I feel as though I make my best work here. I realized I wanted to be here long term after attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Its located just over an hour by car from where I grew up. After that residency I had a year of grad school remaning and knew I was heading back once I got that degree. I drove back to Maine 5 days after graduation. I had no plan though, I just knew that’s where I needed to be. With no money and a head full of ideas I was a little nervous but things worked out. I found a job at the Maine College of Art. I’m an artist in residence and run the photo areas, both digital and wet labs. Its been a fantastic symbiosis. I get to perpetuate my practice and help the next generation along. 

Is there anything about the way you produce your work that you believe 
to be unique or unusual? 

‘Black Dots’ 2009

Only that when it comes down to it its all very simple, or perhaps a very simple use of photography. Camera based images are all created in the camera with no content added digitally. Its all multiple exposures, photo 101 stuff. Other work is captured with a flatbed scanner. Objects or surfaces are scanned just like film, with either negative or positive settings.

I heard a musician once state that simpler is better and that’s really stuck in my head when I think about making work.

I hope that my work passes on the wonder  and curiosity that inspires me to make it, but I   think a lot of other work does that…sort of gets the viewers mind going, trying to solve a visual puzzle of sorts

Who do you feel has influenced art most this century? 

‘Light Sphere’ 2009

I don’t know, probably Duchamp

Who first influenced you artistically? 

Bob Ross, but honestly, the first Artists I was shown that really changed my idea about what photo could be or do were Mike and Doug Starn. My older brother showed me their work when he was studying painting at the University of Maine and I was a sophomore in high school. I think that work got me curious about materiality. 

Who inspires you?

People who do things well

What role does the artist have in society?

Make good work, make your work, make more work, and don’t be a douche bag.

Caleb’s work will be exhibited at the following events: DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park     second nature: abstract photography then and now    

A group show in London this summer at Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery 

He will be also be working on a Public art project in Cincinnati this summer with the art non-profit ArtWorks.

thanks to Mark M. Whelan
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