We spoke with GoggleWorks 2022 Summer Resident Nate Tietbohl before the end of his residency to get an in depth peek at his 10-week journey. He has left us speechless with the incredible 180 turn of the garden. Combining nature and art, Nate has completely transformed the GoggleWorks garden space with delicacy and an organic artistry never before experienced. We wanted to know what his process was, how he came up with the idea for the final pieces made and what his thoughts are on the execution of the space.
What was your most unique experience during your residency?
“The most unique experience was like doing the work that I’ve been doing for years but in such a social context where people from the mechanic shop, while they’re waiting on their cars, will walk over and I’ll have a 20 minute conversation with somebody. Phillip from the Elks Lodge would come over just about every night to talk and see what’s happening. This has been a great opportunity to get a lot of feedback while things are going on, and make sure that my vision is clear enough throughout the whole process. I want to be able to communicate in a way that resonates and relates, being able to adapt to what I’m doing, with GoggleWorks and the people in the community.”
Would you say there has been any change in your original idea for the garden space?
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to expand beyond the garden and the woodshop. Working with Maggie and Scott to create those glass bricks, where Scott has a giant ladle of glass and he’s just chopping off chunk after chunk, it was wild. Making the birdbath was another idea, where there was a negative space to fill in the layout of the garden and some of those layout points that I think alot about, like ‘What else could go here?’ ‘What could be an interesting and cohesive element to incorporate into this space?’ Is it something we should buy or make, having that connection and accessibility to other artists and various studios it was incredible. It was an interesting element being able to bring in the other studios and their work and talent.”
A gorgeous birdbath which caught our eye just a few steps into the entrance of the garden gates with its lovely colors reflecting the palette of a deep sunset. We asked Nate to elaborate on the process of creating such a unique piece and his collaboration with our hotshot studio manager Scott.
“I’m making the pedestal out of wood blocks that I’ve already got together, and I’ll wood turn that in the morning and I’m going to stand that pedestal on a rock. With the birdbath bowl, I went to Scott and I said I want to make a glass birdbath. This is a drawing, and I want a sunset palette of purples, reds, and golds. He then brings out a box and starts saying ‘Alright these and these will work together, these are more opaque. These colors can’t work together because they’ll burn each other out.’ It was cool learning about the process of how everything has to work together.
We also noticed a new element off to the side of the fence that resembled large tan bricks and so we asked Nate what they were.
“I wasn’t anticipating working with cob which is the english term for adobe. The bricks in the garden are cob, Karen and I went into the woods to a spot she knows and we dug up clay from a clay vein and mixed it up with sand and straw and it is hard as steel right now. It’s been nice getting to experiment with things. I could spend hours talking about each element in the garden because there is a lot of engineering and physics that go into all.”
During your residency were you inspired by anything in particular?
“Of course, definitely the community conversations steered a lot of this, bringing in ideas and being able to incorporate those ideas into conversations was nice. Having the rapport, as a cohort, that I had with Kate and Janine, having a lot of conversations about what we’re doing and approaching situations as ‘Well did you think about doing this?’ or ‘I’m stuck on this thing, how can I make it work?’ and just taking this mixture of ideas and media approach to things, is like ‘I never would’ve thought of casting wood in porcelain or making clay bricks.’ and I never would’ve thought to do that if they hadn’t been working in the ceramic studio. Kate kind of guided me on how to get started and then Karen stepped in and helped with the completion of it all.”
If you could go back to the beginning of the residency, is there anything you would have done differently?
“Not gotten COVID. That definitely threw a wrench in things, but as Kate and I discussed working professionally and in the capacity that she does, even when there’s hurdles and setbacks, whatever it may be, you have the skills to be able to grind and get things done and not get overwhelmed with a lack of time. The first two weeks were a great opportunity to sketch out ideas, talk to people, and kind of move little things around to see how they felt. But I wouldn’t have arrived at the same conclusions in this work as I did now, if everything hadn’t happened the way that it did. I’m really happy with how things have come together.”
Were you able to explore the city during your residency?
“Unfortunately not really, I got back from COVID around June 12, and so I had to get right back to work. I had really hoped to use those two weeks that I was out, to go around and do some informal canvassing and spend time out in the neighborhood to get feedback. The first week I was out and about getting my lunches, and after I got back it was like ‘Okay meal prepping and straight to work’. Moving forward I’ll definitely be able to have more experience within the city, working on new projects with other people, so this isn’t just a one off connection.”
What do you want your work to say, or what message could an audience take from the transformation of this space?
“That’s a good question. Practically speaking, what I would really like to do is get people to think differently about how we bring nature into our daily lives and into creative spaces. When all of this comes together it’s going to look like a woodling edge with a creek, and one hundred percent native species; really bringing an experience with an ecosystem into our life and doing it at a scale that is very accessible. On a personal and emotional level, I think the biggest thing I want people to take away is the sense of enchantment and a sense of wonder and a sense of playfulness. The elements that I’m bringing into this space are kind of whimsical in a generational kind of way, kids come in and want to make mud pies and jump into a muddy ditch and ho on logs; there’s a reconnection with your inner child that kind of kindles when you’re walking through woods or a meadow, that is possible on a small scale and possible to connect the space to people’s daily lives.”
What is your next adventure?
“This has been such a unique opportunity and process, interacting with artists, community, this new space; it’s been so different and great. But I’m resting, I owe my partner a wonderful trip, because they’ve come up here to help me every week. I’m going to sleep a lot and then get back to bringing this kind of work to other places. I have a handful of projects for the fall and I feel very charged up from creating this new space.”
To be able to take a simple garden, use it as a canvas and completely transform it into a space of wonder and enchantment has been an amazing experience to watch. Nate has done a wonderful job and has left a footprint of unique creativity to be enjoyed by all for years to come. We can’t wait to see where life takes him.
Keep up with Nate at https://www.wildcraftlandscapes.com and on Instagram @pronouncedteabowl as he heads towards his next adventure. Make sure to check out the GoggleWorks 2022 Summer Residency Exhibition in Cohen Gallery West from August 12th until October 21st, 2022.
A huge thank you to the Wyomissing Foundation for sponsoring Nate Tietbohl’s residency here at GoggleWorks.