Charles Mulford is a sculptor based in New Jersey. He holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BFA from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts. His sculptures have been exhibited in the New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ, the Attleboro Arts Museum, Attleboro, MA, the Bruton Museum, Somerset, UK, and The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster, NJ. Mulford apprenticed at the Seward Johnston Atelier, specializing in metal chasing and fabrication. His work is part of the special collection of the Vanderbilt University Library and Temple University Library. Presently, Mulford is a professor of art history at County College of Morris in Randolph, NJ.
Q: What town do you live in? Where is your studio/place of work?
A: I live and work in Chatham. For the last several years, my studio has been an iPad using several 3D modeling programs and a soundproof room filled with 3D printers.
Q: What kind of art do you create/what do you do in the arts?
A: My current work involves cartoon figures enacting theatrical narratives with three-dimensional scans of real-world objects. Mired in tragic circumstances that are sometimes humorous, the characters express their feelings about serious subjects such as anxiety, illness, and death.
Q: What is your art background/education/
A: I hold an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BFA from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts. I also apprenticed at the Seward Johnston Atelier, specializing in metal chasing and fabrication.
Q: How do you balance your time in the studio/in the workplace with other commitments?
A: In addition to working in the studio, I am an art history professor at County College of Morris. Studying art history so closely complements my art practice.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm transforming (smoothing, stretching, flattening, and inflating) 3D scans of human heads that become part of narratives involving violent cartoon figures.
Q: Has your practice changed over time? Why/How?
A: My sculpture background is in bronze casting. But, during the pandemic, I became interested in 3D printing and modeling. I was surprised by how much faster I could create a 3D-printed sculpture compared to traditional modeling and casting techniques.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being in the arts? Least favorite?
A: For me, a sculpture starts as a daydream and answers the question, “what if?” The “what if” is what motivates me to make artwork. My least favorite thing is repairing broken printers.
Q: What inspires you? Who are your favorite artists/ artwork? Favorite museum/ gallery (outside of Morris County
A: My father was an engineer who taught me how to use hand tools and build things. If not for his early influence, I don’t think I would have become a sculptor. There is a long list of artists I admire. Two that come to mind are Philip Guston and Paul McCarthy.
Q: What are a few of your big artistic career goals? What is your dream project?
A: I am happy to continue to make progress by focusing on the work and having a balance of art making and exhibiting.
Q: How do you stay connected and up to date with the art world?
A: The best part of participating in an art community is meeting other artists and learning about their life and artwork.
Q: When you are working through problems in your arts practice, who do you talk to? What is the best piece of advice you've been given? What advice do you have to give other artists?
A: While in undergraduate school at Rutgers, I had the opportunity to work alongside Melvin Edwards. When he wasn’t teaching classes, he made his Lynch Fragments series. Talking with him and watching him create sculpture daily was the best example of how to be an artist. My advice to aspiring artists is to try to do an art related activity each day.
Q: Favorite museum/gallery (outside of Morris County)?
A: I recommend the M Galleries in Washington, NJ. Frank May owns and curates monthly contemporary art exhibitions.
Q: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
A: Recently a fellow artist looked at one of my sculptures and commented that “I’ve felt that way.”
Q: What do you want others to know about your art practice/artistic themes/stylistic choices/materials you use?
A: These sculptures are created using computer modeling programs and printed in PLA, a biodegradable plastic made from plants. In additive printing, a 3D printer builds each piece layer by layer, recreating my three-dimensional drawings. Incorporating humor, I create exaggerated scenes that reflect ruminating thoughts. The result is a visual representation of a sometimes humorous but tortured world.
Q: Do you have any exhibitions/events/
performances coming up? Where can people see your work?
A: I currently have two sculptures in Reemergence at the New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ. (June 25, 2022 - April 30, 2023). I also have a sculpture in the International Juried Exhibition at The Center for Contemporary Arts, Bedminster, NJ (January 20, 2023 - April 1, 2023). I also have a current solo exhibit at M Galleries PNA (mgalleries.org) 6/1-6/30/23.
Q: Where is your favorite place to find visual arts in Morris County?
A: The Morris Museum often has an exhibition on contemporary art.