Eric Powell’s work is driven by a visceral urgency to build. Compelled more by intuition than dialectic thinking, his process is propelled forward by a moment-to-moment exploration of his materials. By understanding site and context and allowing himself to explore areas that may not follow a logical or systematic pattern, he inevitably finds himself at a place where certain magical juxtapositions occur. Powell describes this as a vulnerable and highly charged experience.
Powell works primarily with steel, one of the most common and ubiquitous building materials in the modern world. He values the material for its versatility, malleability, and its decidedly alchemical properties. Steel transforms into a material as pliable as clay, which can be formed, pounded, molded, and bent into virtually any shape with the right amount of heat and force. An avid collector, he integrates elements of his large cache of historical steel and iron objects into his pieces and also incorporates other materials including bronze, wood and glass into his work.
Powell is well known for his large works of art that relate strongly to site and architecture. Working both on commissioned private works and public art projects, he relishes translating an idea into a large, freeform structure that can withstand strong wind loads and harsh environments. Working out the physical requirements of large-scale work presents a fascinating challenge. Powell also appreciates public art commissions for their collaborative aspect, as well as for the opportunity to design and create works of art that are lasting, permanent, accessible and compelling for all viewers.
Powell studied sculpture and painting at California College of Arts and the University of Southern California. In 1982, he co-founded Spirit Arts Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he created an extensive body of sculptural works. In 1989, he founded Eric Powell Studio where he produces public and private commissions and works for gallery and museum exhibitions.