Ever wonder who’s behind the mosaic of colored glass embedded in the columns of the Wynwood 2300 Building? It’s Miami-based sculptor and multimedia artist Troy Simmons. His pieces have appeared at Volta New York, Volta Basel, Miami Art Week, Art Paris, the Boca Raton Museum of Art, and the Cornell Art Museum, to name a few, and he’s also the recipient of an Oolite Ellies Creator Award. Simmons’ newest public art endeavor is a large, cantilevered sculpture for Canadian business jet manufacturer Bombardier at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. Aventura sat down with the artist to talk about his style, influences, and inspiration.
AVM: What was your early exposure to art?
Simmons: Watching my grandfather on the farm. He built his own house. It had a dirt floor. He would make furniture by taking deerskin and stretching it and basically creating chairs. … He would just make stuff from what he found on the land or from what he ate. That was my first introduction [to] this craft of working with your hands and him building his home.
A lot of your work is very architectural. Is that a major inspiration for you?
I got a degree from Oklahoma State University as an architectural technician. I worked with a firm, and it allowed me to have my hands in pretty much everything. I was able to take all of these building blocks that I had learned from my grandfather and environmental science [from my time as a lab technician] into the architectural world and mesh that all together to what my art would become. My art is a combination of all those experiments and all those things I did in life building up to where I am today.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
Maybe I’m going through something in life, and I’m feeling a wave of depression. I look at things in the environmental world—a plant that’s growing doesn’t have any limitations. If you put foundation on a plant, eventually it will take back over. I have a series called Durthdrutch, a German term for “breakthrough.”
Tell us about your collaboration with Bombardier.
Travel is one of the biggest teachers. You learn cultures, you learn a lot of things by traveling. When this Bombardier opportunity came up, I said, ‘Okay, here is this airplane manufacturer who sells planes for people to travel around the world, but it is another transportation: It takes you to other cultures, takes you to places.’ This sculpture that I created after I looked at the architecture of the building, I felt would be a great integration of their building. It has the same angles, the same flow. It’s called Janus Portal; Janus is the Greek god of travel.