Mother Nature was on our side when we met up with Tom Fruin at the Brooklyn Bridge Park . This day turned out to be one of the sunniest and most beautiful days of the season.If you’re not familiar with Tom Fruin, shame on you! But guaranteed you are more familiar with his current on-going exhibition, ‘Kolonihavehus’ and ‘Watertower’. They are both residing in Brooklyn and both are made out of found multicolored pieces of Plexiglas and metal.Tom’s source of inspiration and materials arise from the streets. Starting with his found drug-bag series, a collection of quilt like pieces constructed of discarded drug bags he collected from various neighborhoods in New York City. Tom created the quilt pieces based on the neighborhoods he met during his scavenging. The drug bags found in Chinatown looked different in color than the bags found in Harlem. In a way, the quilted works served as a representative flag or map of each of these locations. Lower East Side was one of his first scavenging locations and the first neighborhood he lived in when he transferred from his native Los Angeles in 1996. During that era, the L.E.S we all know and love was classified as a dangerous and drug infested section of New York.
Fast forward to 2010 when Tom unveiled a new project he was asked to work on in Copenhagen using discarded Plexiglas. The result was ‘Kolonihavehus’, a house inspired by garden sheds used in Copenhagen as havens for working-class families from the dense, inner cities.The house is made up of over 1,000 found pieces of Plexiglas sourced from different areas in Copenhagen. It is functional art, with handmade hinges that help operate the door and some of the windows. Last September after a long exhibiting tour throughout Europe, the sculpture made its debut in Brooklyn at the Dumbo Arts Festival. Sadly, the Art Festival after an 18 year run announced they won’t be returning this year. Tom was the best of host on this sunny afternoon. He allowed us to go inside the house to shoot and even let kids in to play in it as he patiently waited. He mentioned, that on weekends he likes to come by and unlock the door to the house and let curious bystanders of all ages see and interact with the sculpture from inside.Once we were done at ‘Khus house’ as Tom called it, we walked to his nearby studio and got to see some of his earlier works and peek at new ones in the making. After a quick tour of the studio and me feeling excited as if I was 10 in Santa’s workshop, we headed up to the rooftop where the famous ‘Watertower’ stands. The ‘watertower’ is a tribute to New York and the first ‘watertower’ created for Tom’s ‘ICON Series’ where he uses scavenged and recycled materials to create tribute sculptures for symbolical architectural landmarks.
Q&A with Tom Fruin
Scavenging is a main component of your craft- you incorporate found objects in your work- where do you normally go on these scavenger adventures?
TF:Parks and projects are my favorite because they are geographically defined. Honestly tho, I can’t turn off the scavenger gene, I’m always finding and collecting. Half the time, my wife won’t hold my hand because she has no idea what I’ve collected.
What new projects are you working on?
TF: Next up is St Ann’s Warehouse theater signage. And it is gonna be awesome!!
What is your favorite place to get away to when you need some quiet alone time?
TF: Bike riding. Any where! Any time alone is either working in the studio or bike riding.
If I had the means, I would hang inside the Khus sculpture to get away, listen to music or watch Louis C.K. On my ipad but then that might give people the impression that the ‘Reflection’ performance is back for an encore. Any plans to incorporate more performance art with your pieces?
TF: Always trying to get heard. love collaborating in any form – nothing in the works but I’d love to have someone activate the KHus sculpture this summer, maybe someone reading a novel or something.
I am a big music lover that is always looking for new bands, genre or songs I can jam to. What are you listening to?
TF: In the studio I’m mostly hip hop and electro. Joey Badass, trap and drill. The faint, justice
To learn more about Tom Fruin and new projects head over to TomFruin.com
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Photos By: Erica Genece