Jay Nelson & his wooden cocoons
He has his feet and hands scraped by the sun and salt. His home state California tans his skin every day up in the trees or under the alcove of a wave. But Jay Nelson also tans whilst sanding and dreaming. Wood is his material, his thinking tool. He makes cocoons, cabins, kinds of pupae embedded in vehicles and other surprising futuristic additions. He might be called an architect, but this word is too literal. He prefers to become enthused to assemble and gather nature with men. An original virtue.
Subject to external and natural absorption, the works of Jay Nelson are new alternative living spaces, reflecting a functional form and spiritual background. Meet the man who wants to transform and inspire.
Hi Jay! Without being original (but this is essential), could you tell us a bit about your artist experience? — A hut in the trees, a troglodyte bike, a boat, a nest… Your artworks revive our child soul. Is there a link between the universe in which you grew and what you do today?
I was grown up in coastal Los Angeles building forts in the cliffs and canyons by the sea, this was my first experience with building structures. I spent most of my childhood building, surfing and drawing. When I was eighteen I moved to Northern California because I was interested in uncrowded waves and nature. I went to college, continued painting and after college built my first camper on a Honda civic. I wanted to not pay rent; I lived in an attic space above mollusk surf shop and also in my Honda civic.
The Honda civic was the start of my exploration into alternative living spaces and how architecture/structures can have a massive effect on the way we experience or world. At the same time continuing painting and now structures for the painting.
Using wood or recycled materials for your creations, you manage to perfectly blend them into nature. What is the relation in your life and work with nature?
I first started using old material because I was poor but then I came to realize that recycled wood had a visual history that new wood didn’t, new wood is a dead tree while old wood has life. Nature is important and I think about it a lot mostly when I’m building windows. A window is a way to frame and share nature. It tells the inhabitants; this is the world that I want to share with you.
What you create, primarily, is functional. I suppose that you must have a lot of stories about testing these creations. Do you have one to share with us?
With the vehicles and boats, functional is mandatory. I have no space in my life for phony objects, if I build a boat it needs to function as a vehicle or else it’s useless. But I’m also a bit naive; I generally imagine my entire vehicle to function perfectly in the conceptual stages and through the building process.
The first boat I built did not work because I knew nothing about boating. That boat now exists in Mollusk Surfshop as just a sculpture; to me it is a failure.
In terms of work influences, there are gothic and surrealist references, which move between ancient history and the sci-fi world. How do you manage to reconcile both? Is this something that is planned and thought about? By the same token, are there any monuments, artists or values which inspire you?
I honestly don’t know a lot about art history or where my might relate too. If you say my work is influenced by certain movements I can’t argue. In our time it’s impossible to be completely ignorant. But I would say my influences are probably more out of the 60s and 70s back to land movement that existed in the USA. I’ve also been very influenced by the Shelter publications.
If we took a flight to San Francisco one day to spend a good few days with you, would you have any iconic or unusual places to show us?
I would show you around my neighborhood in the outer sunset, have lunch at outerlands and take to some of my friends studios in the neighborhood
Imagine! I would call you in a few years and say : “Jay! I would like you to create our new work premises”. Something made to measure, atypical and functional as you are used to doing. What would you suggest to me?
It’s hard to say because in a year I might be interested in something completely different. But I’m generally interested in immersive spaces. I enjoy thinking about every surface. Floor, ceiling, walls, furniture, lighting, windows. I want to make spaces where people are transformed and inspired.
If you had to promote an artist that you love, which one would you choose?
I have a friend Kyle Field who is a musician (little wings). Is like to build him a touring vehicle camper
Thanks with all our heart Jay his commitment and passion for life .
Find more on Jay Nelson HERE.