Car talk: Devin Farrand finds art and solace in the garage
Inside every creative is a place that exists only in memory, a retreat for meditation and inspiration. For Devin Farrand, that place is ‘the garage’ where industrial materials and manual labor can be repurposed for the realm of nonfunctional design.
Farrand, an Oregon native, sees a parallel between the garage as ‘a site of personal excavation’ and the old quarries in which he used to play. Both of these influences came together in 2015 for his solo show ‘Blocks on Blocks’ at Good Weather in North Little Rock, Arkansas– a former single car garage.
In the eponymous work Blocks on Blocks, the Cranbrook graduate fashions an engine out of yellow zinc plated steel. Carrara marble sprouts from the bottom like a naturally occurring formation.
This show was the genesis for his current series, Plates, some of which he presented with Ibid Gallery at Frieze New York 2016.
‘Personal artifacts’ and the process of extracting them is an ongoing theme in Farrand’s work. He holds memory close, including the formative teenage experience of restoring a Mustang with his dad, the manager of a boat factory.
In Plates, Farrand once again utilizes yellow zinc to achieve an iridescent effect. He first encountered the compound on the oil pan of that Mustang’s engine, where it functions as an anticorrosive coating.
‘I liked the surface of it when I was 15,’ he explains. ‘It’s not supposed to be something that you look at, it comes out really random.’
For Plates, Farrand has inset perfectly circular slabs of marble, waste from the creation of Blocks on Blocks, in steel rectangles treated with the zinc or darkened with bluing. He’s also created the perfect inverse, an iridescent steel circle in a Carrara canvas.
This harks back to another pastime of his Pacific Northwest upbringing– building acoustic guitars, and navigating the associated wooden inlays.
One of Farrand’s Piston Plates is included in Ibid’s summer group show in Marylebone running 18 June – 6 August. This month his work is also included in a group show at Left Field Gallery in San Luis Obispo, California.
These days Farrand’s metaphorical garage is the Los Angeles studio he shares with his wife, artist Ariel Herwitz. And rather than afternoons spent with the Mustang, he’s been interfacing with a 500 pound slab of marble– tinkering with memory until it runs.