Chad Stayrook is an interdisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His studio is above Present Company, a gallery he co-founded with Brian Balderston and José Ruiz. Chad has an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institue. He’s exhibited in South Korea, the Netherlands, San Francisco, Portland, Philadelphia, NYC and Washington D.C.
My work is based around the Romantic era of exploration and science. The projects are self-imposed expeditions centered around absurd and impossible ideas, like ‘finding the sublime.’ The most recent project is An Adventure (in three parts). The first part was a canoe trip from here, my studio, up the Hudson River to Peekskill. It was about finding the sublime within the Hudson River. Another project was during a sailing residency in the Arctic Circle with 20 other artists around the archipelago, 2000km from the North Pole. I reappropriated the experience into a scientific exploration to find a missing tooth of mine.
Travel is a big part of my work. It’s about going into the field, doing things, collecting data and then coming back to the studio to process it. It’s hard to have a studio visit in this kind of practice. A lot of the time, I resort to just showing images on my computer. I really hate doing that because it doesn’t tell you the whole story. For me, the experience exists in complex installations that pull together all of this information into one space.
A lot of my practice is building props to work with. I use them as a jumping off point. I call them, ‘pseudo-scientific tools.’ They really have no function whatsoever, but I present them as having really complicated functions. This is called, ‘Sublime Transmogrification Device.’ The idea is, when you’re outside, you get a very specific A-to-B view, but you also get all these other disjointed views of the landscape around you. You can use this device to find disruptions in space and time, or these divine sublime moments that you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
It’s nice to have the gallery, Present Company, below my studio because if I need to work on something big, I can spread it out downstairs. Since we started this space, I’ve become very pale. There’s no windows. I’ve been in here all night, arriving when it was dark outside and leaving when it’s bright and sunny. It’s very disorienting. I find that a bit troublesome in terms of having that nice, daily, ongoing progression of moving through the day.
Recently, I started drawing more. For me, it’s actually a very therapeutic thing. They’re much more emotional and personal. They’re about more immediate, difficult things going on in my life that I just want to process in some way. I really like them. I’m really having a lot of fun with them. I produce them in about 15-45 minutes and it’s a really satisfying sense of accomplishment. A lot of my work has so many levels and processes, so seeing it in its final form is far down the road. It gets frustrating, always working towards something. It’s nice to have something done.
-Chad Stayrook, as told to Studio Beat.
Photos by Courtney Vokey
Visit Chad Stayrook’s website here.