Creators, Makers, and Doers: Chad Erpelding

Posted on 10/21/15 by Arts & History


The process of creation and art is forever present within Chad Erpelding’s life and his career, which is the reason he was drawn to Boise with the opportunity to teach and mentor at Boise State. He stayed due to the balance of living and maintaining an active studio practice, which is something crucial to all artists in order to remain productive and influential.  Having recently been called to show work in Olympia, Washington, Erpelding finds this opportunity as a way to visually express his fascinations with the operations of the corporate world, and how they directly affect our daily lives.


What’s your preferred medium?

I would call it painting, but it’s not necessarily as strict or a traditional understanding of painting.  I definitely approach things from a painter’s perspective, but play with a lot of different materials. Some of the work is with resin and some of it is digital. Some of it remains digital, but some of it is just traditional painting on a surface. Also, a lot of screen printing shows up in my work, so there is a lot of different materials.


What are you working on at the moment?

I’m finishing up a few pieces that are looking at the construction of time zones and the history of that. The pieces look at how the railroad companies lobbied the government to create the time zones for their interests. It was interesting to me to learn that our time zones come from corporate interests, which is pretty fascinating. I’ve been working on these four pieces on the four main time zones in the U.S. and mingling those with some old logos from the different railroad companies all with an abstract painting look. I’ve also slowly been working on a series over the past four years based on sister cities and so these works are resin and digital print pieces.  I have a show in February in Olympia, Washington that’s going to be at least fifty of these small pieces. So I have about thirty five done so far.


Can you talk about your process a little bit more?

The sister cities pieces are taking different information from each city relationship. One of the layers of imagery could be a satellite image of one city cut into the shape of another city. You have these dual formats competing with each other and as you look at the piece you are continually confronted with information that’s conflicting. It’s information from this place but it’s cut into the form of that place and vice versa and those are all heavily layered. Generally the pieces have four different layers of images with multiple layers of resin between each one.  It’s usually about twelve layers of resin with four images.


What’s the driving force behind your work?

Lately, I’m starting to shift into looking at these powerful institutions that have major effects on our lives that we are either just used to and don’t notice or that are behind the scenes. Before, I would have said it was all about globalization but I think I’m starting to move away from that a little bit and more into just trying to find ways to visualize these different powerful entities that affect us.


Are you a full-time artist?

I am not a full-time artist. I am a professor at Boise State University in the Art Department and the Graduate Program Director. Art obviously is a major part of all of this, so I do feel like I am a busy and productive artist.


How much time on average do you spend in your studio?

It depends so much with the academic year. In the summer, the idea is that it’s very heavy in the studio. During the school year, I typically reserve Fridays for uninterrupted studio time. It’s hard to keep true to that but that’s typically what I plan to do.  Because my studio’s at home, one benefit is that I can come out here at night and do something quick after work. I can’t really give you a time frame. I would love to say that I spend 20 hours a week in the studio, but I don’t know if that’s true.


Do you feel that Boise’s art community is thriving?

I think it’s struggling.  I feel like since I’ve been in town, it’s always felt like a thing of potential. It’s never felt like any sort of realized potential. I see these little spurts of things that get really exciting and they seem to kind of wane and fall off.  I always feel like there’s a big creative class here and that there are a lot of people here doing some really interesting work, but  I’m not sure what’s preventing us all from bringing things to the fore front. There seems to be issues with getting it out there.

Do you recognize any resources that are missing here in Boise?

I think Boise could really obviously use more spaces, more art spaces. I think both exhibition and production spaces. I wish we had big old warehouses here.  I don’t know Boise that well, but I’m not familiar of anywhere where there are just giant empty warehouses.


Do you have any tips or inspiring words for artists?

I would say I have some advice more than inspiration. Maybe if you catch me during the school year, I might have more inspiration. You have to work. You have to work even when it’s really boring and when it becomes real work you have to accept it as work and keep at it.



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