A.P.E.X Event: Sculptor Al Farrow Q&A

This Thursday, Sept. 19 at 11:30 a.m. in the Great Hall, sculptor Al Farrow talked about his “Wrath and Reverence” exhibition. In collaboration with the Southern Utah Museum of Art, his exhibition will continue through Oct. 5. 

Al Farrow was born in Brooklyn, New York, but has lived in the San Francisco area for over 30 years. In response to his age, the 75 year old sculptor said, “When I work, I don’t have any age.”

In this A.P.E.X event, Farrow gave unique and helpful responses to questions for the art students and fans in the audience. 

Question: Why is art important?

Al Farrow: Art is one of the most important things in life. It’s how we interpret cultures, especially cultures from the past. We dig them up and interpret them through the art that’s been left behind.

Question: When did you know this is what you wanted to do with your life?

AF: Art was always a part of my life. I grew up in New York City, and at the time they separated talented kids and put them in special classes. At age ten I was put into special art classes. I’m from a family of six brothers, and I grew up in my two older brother’s shadows. There were all these pre-judgments about me, and so I made the choice not to follow art because my brothers were so advanced. I was intimidated by my brothers. I went to an engineering high school, but the art thing wouldn’t leave me alone. It was inside me and bothering me constantly. I didn’t want my family to see what I was doing, so secretly I went and bought paints. 

Question: Do you have any particular memorable experiences  from your childhood that stand out?

AF: The family I grew up in was economically deprived. We didn’t have much, but we always had paper and pencils. We created drawing games. I think it made us all develop a beautiful hand-eye coordination.

Question: Do you have a tool that you have in your studio that you can’t live without?

AF: My mind. I’m always making things in my head. I close my eyes and block out the world, and let the ideas come.

Question: Do you have any advice for the art students in the crowd?

AF: You need to believe in yourself. When I taught at a college, I told my students, “You need to be true to your own creative spirit.” The deepest sincerity comes from believing in what you’re doing. As artists, you’re going to get at least 95% rejection, and if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re going to shrivel. That belief in yourself is what protects you. You have to get tough. 

Question: If you were one of your works of art, which one would you be?

AF: I would choose to be the cathedral that’s in this show. I would get to travel a lot and I would have lots of people to discuss with. I think it’s one of my successful pieces. It’s amongst what I consider to be one of my best efforts.

Question: What’s your biggest opposing force as an artist?

AF: Lack of money. I was never financed. It was hard to get people to believe in me. I had a show in Germany and San Francisco, and I approached my family and friends. No one believed in me enough to loan me money. I eventually came up with the solution that if someone would loan me $2,000, I would give them a free bronze sculpture that was worth about $2,000 itself.

Question: Do you think there is any relationship between depression and creativity?

AF: I was depressed before I became an artist and I haven’t been depressed since. I’ve encouraged my students to work through it with their art. You don’t have to suffer and struggle just to become an artist. There’s no nobility in that.

Question: How did your exhibition “Wrath and Reverence” come to be?

 AF: I was in a transitional period with my work. I thought I would like to go back to carving. I went to Italy for a month and looked at every museum and church I came across. I came across a chapel in Florence and [was inspired.] 

Farrow’s travelling exhibition is currently here in Cedar City but debuted at the Forum Gallery in New York over four years ago. Since 2015, it has traveled to the Crocker Art Museum, the Art Museum at the University of Wyoming, the Museum of Craft and Design, and the McKinney Avenue Contemporary. SUMA will be its last location. 

For more information on Al Farrow and his work, read his biography here.


Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photos courtesy of: cclarkgallery.com