David Poppie: Minimal Materials, Maximum Impact

David Poppie: Minimal Materials, Maximum

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When we first saw David Poppie’s collages created from colored pencils at his first Paradise City show last October, we found ourselves entranced by the patterns, the colors and the depth of his art – and the logistical challenge of making such elaborate and precise compositions from pencils, of all things.

Wandering Stars 2How long have you been practicing your art? What brought you to your career as an artist?
I have been making art professionally for 27 years. I received both my BA and MFA at the University of Wisconsin. But I always drew as a kid. A high school teacher entered one of my pieces in a show and it won a prize – so I kept going in art from that point on.

How has your work changed over time?
My work comments on the disposable nature of much of contemporary culture, repurposing tea bags, matchbooks, plastic cutlery and the like for my collages. My abstract sculptures, collages, and installations are most often composed of a single medium, arranged in repetitive, geometric ways, and rooted in Minimalism. They always highlight how briefly we value the objects around us.

betweenAfter creating collages with monochromatic materials for quite some time, the addition of a greater amount of color was a revelation. By repurposing more colorful objects, like album covers and colored pencils, the ideas of repetition still are there, but the pigmentation and vibrancy has become a much larger part of what I do.

I have also started to make furniture as well. Through the gathering of the discards of contemporary culture, I ask the viewer to reconsider the function and value of these objects. Now I am adding a new functionality to my work with repurposed materials.

Are there other artists or schools of art with which you identify?
It’s obvious from my work that I love Minimalist Art, but I also love the Fauvists and German Expressionists! I’m also inspired by music. The “grid” is my naïve interpretation of a musical score.

poppie_web_biff-bang-powTell us about the “pencil” collages. How do you do that?
Actually, I don’t saw the pencils in half lengthwise. There’s no saw small enough to cut a pencil lengthwise without splintering it. So I sand colored pencils in half with a belt sander and arrange them into compositions. Some of my collages are a single solid layer, while others have complex, multiple layers of half-pencils. I also manipulate matchbook covers and make abstract compositions with them.

Is your work in any collections (public or private) or museums? What awards, articles or other professional recognition have you received?
My first showing in New York was as part of the 2007 group exhibition “In Context: collage + abstraction”, which brought me a mention by Benjamin Genocchio in The New York Times. Since then, my collages have been collected by Microsoft, Tiffany and Co., Neubuger Berman Corp., Judith Rothchild Foundation and the International Center for Collage. Recent exhibitions include the Katonah Museum of Art, New York; The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Missouri; the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Wisconsin; and Lehman College Art Gallery. My work was also reviewed in Sculpture Magazine.

poppie-booth (Small)Are there any interesting anecdotes or turning points that affected the direction of your career?
I moved to New York City to try to get into the NYC art world. I lived there for nearly 6 years and never showed a gallery my work. Then I moved to Western Massachusetts and showed a gallery my work and they picked me up. Goes to show you don’t have to live in New York to participate in the art world!

Do you have any specific goals for your art or career? Or any special projects that you’ve always wanted to do?
My goal is to make my living at my artistic endeavors full time. I am very interested in public large-scale art work projects. Last summer a friend and I, through collaboration, completed a 12′ x 39′ wall piece in a student housing building at Drexel University.

David Poppie’s truly eye-popping, totally unique collages and furniture can be seen in person at both Paradise City Arts Festivals this fall: October 8-10 in Northampton and November 18-20 in Marlborough.