The Bushwick-based artist Daniel Mandelbaum goes to his studio with no plan of what he is going to create. “A lot of times the goal in mind is to take the lifeless material, clay, and turn it into something animated, like something quasi-animal,” he says about his process. “I like to think that I’m using the clay to generate my ideas instead of pencil and paper, like drawing in three-dimensional space.”
When finished, the small sculptures take different, unexpected forms. Often, the vagaries of the material or problems in the creation determine the result. “Sometimes I have to compromise, and then glazing the work is always sort of a dice roll,” he adds. “I’ve gotten into the habit of just letting it go, the sculpture will be whatever it wants to be.”
Mandelbaum, who shows his work at the artist-run gallery Marvin Gardens in Ridgewood, Queens, lets chance determine creation. “It’s a give and take relationship with the material,” he says. “The harder I force something to be a certain way the more unnatural it feels.”
Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in the Fall/Holiday 2019/20 issue of Brownstoner magazine.
[Photos via Daniel Mandelbaum]
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