Daniel Chudzinski from Bowling Green State University in Ohio was the First Place winner of the $1200 Scholarship Award in the 2009 Fine Art Finals Midwest Regional Scholarship Competition with his mixed media sculpture Virgil: The Ragtime Relic pictured above. Daniel was kind to take part in a brief interview. Here is what he said:
Fine Art Finals: Why do you create art?
Daniel Chudzinski: I cannot remember a time when I was not creating art. I can imagine a life without food more easily than a life without art.
Fine Art Finals: What are you trying to say with your art?
Daniel Chudzinski: Above all, I strive to provoke a strong emotional response from my viewers. Whether it is joy, laughter, or tears. I push to present a narrative in such a way, that people will continue thinking about the story long after they leave the art. In short, I hope to unite concept, technical ability, and narrative in order to present to the viewer something they have never seen before.
Fine Art Finals: How long have you been creating art?
Daniel Chudzinski: According to my Mother, when I was three years old she discovered me drawing on the back of a new Lazy-Boy recliner with markers. Before she could issue a proper reprimand, she realized she could identify the exact species of dinosaurs that I was illustrating. From that point on my family encouraged my artwork. So you could say that I started with cave paintings, like the rest of civilization.
Fine Art Finals: Are your family and friends supportive in your decision to pursue art?
Daniel Chudzinski: To say my family and friends are supportive would be an enormous understatement. Just this past weekend my parents (an attorney and a biology professor with no prior sculpting experience) helped me cast two life-size figures for my MFA exhibition. My grandfather donated his backyard for the process (which required two enormous pits and much machinery). Tomorrow, they are helping me to cast my first monumental figure. Without their unconditional support and unceasing encouragement I would not have survived as an artist.
Fine Art Finals: What is your area of concentration in art (commercial art, fine art, art history, etc) and why?
Daniel Chudzinski: I began as an illustrator and discovered sculpture much later. Believe it or not, I was initially planning to be a lawyer like my father. That changed going into my senior year of college when I saw the Sistine Chapel ceiling for the first time. I realized two things at that moment: I would not be going to law school, and I would spend the rest of my life trying to create a work of art that would make someone else feel the way Michelangelo’s masterpiece had made me feel that day.
Fine Art Finals: What is your major?
I am currently working on my MFA in 3-D studies (sculpture). Prior to that I completed a B.A. in European History and a B.F.A. in sculpture at Miami University of Ohio.
Fine Art Finals: What was the deciding factor in choosing the school you are attending (attended)?
Daniel Chudzinski: There were many reasons I chose Bowling Green. The deciding factor was my advisor’s willingness to allow me to relentlessly pursue my dreams, no matter how ambitious they were. Over the course of the past two years I have realized many of those dreams. I honestly feel that BGSU is the only program through which I could achieve what I have accomplished artistically in the past two years.
Fine Art Finals: Why did you choose the specific art program you chose at your school?
Daniel Chudzinski: During a nation-wide search for graduate sculpture programs, I decided to visit Bowling Green State University . Having been raised thirty minutes away I was convinced that I already knew what they had to offer. I was wrong. Within minutes of meeting Shawn Morin (the head of the sculpture program) and viewing the facilities and artwork, I knew I had found a program in which I could thrive as an artist.
Fine Art Finals: What is your favorite medium(s) to work in and why?
Daniel Chudzinski: I am constantly experimenting with new materials and discovering new ways to convey narratives. Through Virgil, I realized my interest in working with found objects. I love the notion of utilizing materials that others have consciously rejected or thrown away, in order to create something desirable.
Fine Art Finals: What is your philosophy and work ethic in creating your art?
Daniel Chudzinski: Michelangelo said it best: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Artists should never allow themselves to reside in a comfort zone. This leads to stagnation and predictability. When creating art, it is necessary to bite-off more than you can chew.
Fine Art Finals: Who is your favorite artist(s) and why?
Daniel Chudzinski: I would not say that I have a single favorite artist. I draw inspiration from many sources. However, I have always felt a personal connection to Michelangelo. He was completely devoted to his artwork, even when working on commissions he did not want (the Sistine Chapel ceiling). He refused to settle for anything short of excellence, whether it was sculpture, painting, or architecture. Most admirably, he was working on a sculpture six days before he died (he was 89). The passion never left him.
Fine Art Finals: Do you have any other interests beyond art; what are they and do these interests influence your art?
Daniel Chudzinski: I have many interests beyond art. To name a few: history, animals, the outdoors, kayaking, power-lifting, inspirational stories, taxidermy, archery and fencing.
Fine Art Finals: Is there a specific career path you wish to follow utilizing your artistic talents, and if so, what is your plan for utilizing your artistic skills in the future?
Daniel Chudzinski: I am working towards becoming a professional sculptor.
Fine Art Finals: How do (did) you support yourself financially while attending college?
Daniel Chudzinski: I received a graduate assistantship and had saved money from previous commissions to help pay for personal expenses and art supplies.
Fine Art Finals: How did you hear about Fine Art Finals Scholarship Competitions?
Daniel Chudzinski: I first heard about Fine Art Finals through other students at BGSU.
Fine Art Finals: How has winning or placing in Fine Art Finals Scholarship Competitions helped you?
Daniel Chudzinski: Winning the Fine Art Finals Scholarship competition helped to pay for some of the supplies required to cast two monumental archangels and two life-size figures in plaster for my M.F.A. Exhibition this spring. I have received congratulatory e-mails from many of my peers and faculty members after my success in the Fine Art Finals competition. It has also allowed my work to reach a new audience.
Fine Art Finals: What advice would you give other student artists?
Daniel Chudzinski: It is only impossible until you do it. If you are willing to put in the work and make the necessary sacrifices, your artwork will reward you.
Fine Art Finals: Thank you Daniel. Congratulations again, and we wish you continued success!