Artist and Florida State University adjunct art instructor Tom Hall recalls these words spoken by his high school teacher as he and his classmates bustled down a busy street. The sentiment represents his process as a maker, doer and sculptor of narrative.
“Look at the world and think about everything around you,” says Hall. “We should all have aims and ambition, but the ‘now’ is the important part otherwise you will always be hungry for what is next and miss the ‘now’ completely.”
Hall continually looks at the present world around him from every perspective imaginable. His pieces range in dramatic scale—from singular objects to multi-room installations that have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Each carries Hall’s flair for story balanced with a touch of rebellion.
“Plus, if you’re always looking up, you might bump into someone,” Hall remarks cheekily. “It is important to do the right thing, but who knows what might happen if you don’t.”
Hall’s exhibition at 621 Gallery “The Sometimes Observed life of A Disco Gimp,” encapsulates this play between perspective, personal histories and a spiraling visual thought process. The installation opened on Jan. 3 and will run through Jan. 31.
In this exhibition, Hall turns an eye inward to investigate personal tensions between parental responsibilities and fears. Each room highlights the difficulties of becoming an adoptive father by exploring a new persona, “Disco Gimp Dad,” who represents a mixture of “masked figures” that men play throughout fatherhood.
“Sometimes a father figure who is both a superhero and a subservient jester discovers bits about himself,” writes Hall in his description of the installation. “Is he on a quest? Or is he being tested by something from the outside? Much of the reflections in the work is manifested in the form of mirrors and is due to the dual role of any father, that of likewise being a son.”
Hall grew up the son of a farmer in the English countryside, surrounded by expansive lands and animals that he cared for and were his pets. His father was always outside hard at work but would often purchase model airplane kits for him to make. His mother also encouraged his impulses to craft with his hands by making homemade playdough.
Hall’s room was a museum to these objects and tinkerings. Odd-shaped machines were suspended by strings, swiftly painted and sometimes only half-completed. Hall says he wasn’t a fastidious child, but instead delighted in the act of creation as a way of making sense of his surroundings.
“It’s my out, it’s how I communicate with the world,” says Hall. “There’s a practical side to my work as a maker and doer. I think through the act of making.”
Hall graduated from the Wimbledon School of art with a degree in sculpture and completed his master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. While he doesn’t think of himself as a “sculptor” in the traditional sense, his creative process always begins with an event. It soon develops into a bubbling geyser of ideas and questions that spans six months of development and creation.
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