Arts at Oakland 2021, happening May 21 through 31, showcases the work of six regional artists across Oakland Cemetery via a self-guided map. The artistic installations will highlight the hidden stories that can be found within the gardens and architecture of Oakland Cemetery. Purchase tour tickets.
In this interview, Arts at Oakland artist Jeffry Loy talks about his work and its influences.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your background as an artist.
I arrived in Atlanta in 1991 from South Carolina to study sculpture and photography at Atlanta College of Art. During that time I apprenticed under two talented artist metalworkers where I enhanced my skills as an artist blacksmith. My first studio was in Castleberry Hill where I built a large darkroom for my photography and used the outside sidewalk as my first welding area. During this time my interest in blacksmithing grew.
In 1999, I became one of the founding members and owners of The B-Complex Artist Studios in Capitol View, southwest Atlanta. Working in a 2500 sq. ft. studio, my artistic blacksmithing practice was able to grow by adding large forges and a Little Giant power hammer from 1911 to my shop. The larger space also enabled me to create larger sculptures and installation artworks and to experiment with dynamic elements such as solar-powered LEDs with programmed patterns and colors, TV monitors, servos and sensors, and the incorporation of propane and fire to add sound, light and visceral color to move and react to the environment and the people around it.
From unique, fanciful botanical sculptures, lighting, and public works to my figurative sculptures with botanical bodies and elements, my sculptural artworks have always had a botanical inspiration. Combining traditional blacksmithing techniques and modern technology within my artistic practice, I am always mindful of the history and techniques of blacksmithing while at the same time preserving and adding to the artform’s history. Each new sculpture I create makes me want to extend my ideas and technique further than the previous creations.
Do you have a preferred medium? If so, why?
My preferred medium is metal, primarily stainless steel, copper, mild steel, bronze, and aluminum. Although I do work in other materials like wood and paper, I enjoy manipulating these hard materials and softening them with the forge’s fire to form them into unique elements. Each metal has unique properties and colors that I utilize like paint. These materials withstand the outdoors and last a lifetime.
What influences your work?
Nature always influences my sculptures. I’m often gathering leaves and flowers to get inspiration for a new sculpture. I love combining the different aspects of plants and trees to create something fanciful, yet recognizable.
How was your piece for Arts at Oakland 2021 inspired by Oakland Cemetery?
I have always found that Oakland Cemetery provides me with a calming oasis in the middle of the city. I have been visiting Oakland for many years and across different seasons. When exploring, I often take photos of the regional plants and blooming flowers. I enjoy taking a peek through the greenhouse glass to see what is growing. The ever-changing botanicals found within Oakland Cemetery inspired my Oasis.