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John T Unger

Hudson, NY

John T. Unger is a sculptor and mosaic artist in Hudson, NY. Best known for his Sculptural Firebowls, Unger was the first to cut propane tanks into decorative fire features.

Self-taught as a visual artist, Unger’s training in poetry at Interlochen Arts Academy, Naropa, and Stone Circle brings a depth and lyricism to his visual works. Music, myth and metaphor are woven into his work, a foundation of story and song. Using a variety of media, he seeks to marry construction and context. Materials and techniques are chosen for their impact on narrative, meaning and nuance as much as for form or function.

To make art that will last, he looks to the past for examples that still delight after millennia— believing the simplest forms are most likely to remain relevant. Natural history, music, literature and ancient art are his strongest inspirations.

From performing his poetry on stage at Lollapalooza in 1996, to bartering a mosaic to a bank as a down payment for a house and studio, to displaying an American flag created from over 20,000 Budweiser bottle caps at the 2015 Stagecoach Music Festival, Unger’s art practice has been as much about making good stories as making good art.
Wescover creator since 2019

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How do your pieces come to life? Tell us one interesting thing about your creative process?

"My work is intended to be useful as well as beautiful. I enjoy the practical aspect of art and feel that engineering is as critical as ingenuity in the creation of solid works of art. Designing for function often means that the most important area to consider is the space around your creation, not the space your art occupies. A chair is the best example— there are thousands of beautiful chairs, but the only comfortable chairs are those designed to fit the form of a relaxed human body. If a work of art is to be valued for centuries, I feel it must consider the most elemental aspects of how people will interact with it."
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What do you want people to do or feel when they encounter your creations?

"I firmly believe in making art that is broadly accessible— work that doesn’t require a formal arts education or a deep grasp of theory to relate to. But I also love creating work that can be appreciated on many layers— As a poet, I learned to use words in a way that had a simple surface meaning, but also revealed deeper connections upon reflection. When choosing materials, forms and methods of construction, my goal is to select the options that combine to reinforce the primary meaning while suggesting alternate reads and new interpretations."
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