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“My work seamlessly blends traditional and digital techniques, often imbuing a narrative quality to the artistic process. Physical mediums transcend their physical form and materialize within the digital realm.”

Innovative Fusion: Blending Animation and Sculpture

Justin Zielke, a multifaceted visual artist from the Bay Area, has carved a unique niche in the art world. His artistic journey, deeply rooted in animation and illustration, extends to the realms of sculpture and video. The artist’s diverse body of work reflects his expertise and versatility, garnered through prestigious artist residencies at institutions like Jentel, Vermont Studio Center, SCAD Atelier, and Joshua Tree Highlands. His talent has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine People’s Choice Award in 2020. In a significant milestone in 2022, Zielke made his mark in public art with “Nuance in Repetition,” a sculpture unveiled at SCAD Le Verger in Lacoste, France. Additionally, his creative prowess shone in the music industry, directing a music video for the Dave Matthews Band.

Growing up in a medical family, Zielke’s curiosity in anatomy, body kinesthetics, and psychology took shape. This interest propelled him to pursue an MFA in animation, focusing on the nuanced interplay of body movement and world-building in digital spaces. His transition from digital art to fine art installations is a testament to his evolving artistic vision. The artist’s inclination towards figurative sculpture, utilizing mediums like wood and clay, showcases his ability to capture anatomical precision and emotional depth. His upbringing in rural Kansas further enriched his art, infusing it with the essence of the local landscape and influencing his creative process.

Justin Zielke: Introspection and Artistic Evolution

The artist’s relocation to California marked a pivotal shift in his creative endeavors. Zielke’s work underwent a transformation, intertwining his varied interests with introspection. He delves into the intricacies of anatomy and movement, viewing them through the intriguing lens of neurophilosophy. His artistry has flourished, thanks to residencies, collaborations with international music bands, and global exhibitions. Zielke is determined to revisit his passion for installations, aspiring to transform his videos into immersive, four-dimensional experiences.

In his creations, Justin Zielke explores profound themes of embodiment, the intricate link between mind and body, and the cyclical nature of mental health. His style is a harmonious blend of traditional and digital methods, skillfully combining classical sculpture, stop-frame animation, 3D scanning, and photography. The artist’s goal is to provoke introspection, juxtaposing familiar objects in unexpected contexts to elicit intuitive and emotional responses. His work resonates with viewers, offering insights into the human condition and mental health.

Creating Art in a World Apart: The Studio as a Sanctuary

Justin Zielke, in his relentless pursuit of artistic clarity, has designed his studio to mimic a deprivation chamber, a space devoid of distractions, fostering deep focus. This controlled environment, equipped with malleable clay, precise lighting, camera stabilization, and a high-performance PC, is where the artist’s concepts come to life. Each project is a theatrical display of craftsmanship, unfolding on sets built with painstaking attention to detail, ensuring that every aspect of the sculpting process is orchestrated to perfection.

Zielke draws inspiration from a diverse array of artistic luminaries, including philosopher Henri Bergson, filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, artist William Kentridge, and contemporary video-based installation artists. Bergson’s philosophy on time and motion deeply influences the artist’s perception of these elements in his work. The emotive cinematic language of Tarkovsky and Kentridge’s interdisciplinary approach resonate with Zielke, reflecting his aspiration to integrate multiple media forms. These influences are evident in the depth and complexity of his art.

One of Zielke’s most significant pieces is a life-size figure carved from black walnut logs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially conceived as an ambiguous form, the sculpture gradually evolved to mirror the artist himself, sparking a profound exploration of identity and body positivity. The piece, marred by cracks due to the wood’s improper curing, poignantly symbolizes the ephemeral nature of physical appearance and the inherent beauty in embracing imperfections.

Justin Zielke: Merging Mediums and Environments

Zielke’s artistic mediums evolve in tandem with his environment and life stages, blending classical and digital techniques. In Kansas, his work embodied a rugged, terrestrial aesthetic, whereas his San Francisco phase sees a stronger incorporation of digital elements. His repertoire includes clay sculpting, woodworking, metalwork, mold making, casting, photography, stop-frame animation, pixelation, and 3D processes, showcasing his ability to fluidly navigate between different artistic mediums.

Zielke’s ultimate aspiration is to create immersive, three-dimensional installations. These envisioned spaces, augmented with multi-channel video and intricate soundscapes, aim to delve into themes of embodiment and extended space. Challenging the viewers’ perceptions, these installations will utilize cutting-edge digital technologies like 3D scanning and printing. The artist’s goal is to craft transformative experiences that redefine the boundaries of traditional art forms, inviting viewers into a world of profound emotional and spatial exploration.

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