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Elias Popa finds himself in conversation with the material and text in this third post for his artist in residence project.

Find the complete progression of the work linked below.

Job 38

Job 39

Job 40

Job 41

Artist in Residence 2018: Elias Popa Part 3


Elias Popa


Curated by: 

Spark & Echo Arts, Artist in Residence 2018


Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

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June 4, 2018

As a sculptor, the materials I use often inform me of what shape they would like to take. Although I begin with a concept in mind, the journey to the finished project surprises me. This is also the case with the Scriptures. Often, re-reading meditatively over certain scripts draws out new nuances I missed before. It deepens my understanding.

While reading and re-reading over Job, the passage reminded me of other moments where God allowed a larger percentage of His power to be witnessed. Whether in passing by Moses; a great wind, fire, and quake; or in the illumination of all creation, there is one common thread: It is always in passing. God passed Moses, and let him witness His backside just for a moment.

His presence—direct presence—or rather the fullness of it in its entirety is something we cannot obtain on this side of Heaven. It’s dangerous, even deadly perhaps.

As I worked on models over models of this sculpture, I felt stifled by the concept of a room. In my vision of God. In His display of power to Job, he doesn’t ever ask Job to come into a room. What He really asks is that Job pass through.

What we pass through doesn’t lead us to an end per-say, but to the beginning of eternity. It is the never-ending, growing curiosity and wonderment of the universe and everything beyond it unfolding.

I often have glimpses of these beauties in my work or travel. A small taste, like I had passed down a long corridor and I accidentally saw all of creation beyond a cracked door. It sometimes happens when I pray and work hard at it, other times, when I simply just arrive at a lake or the ocean. For a moment, I glimpse eternity, like Job, and it humbles me.

As I placed the four mirrored walls together, I realized that even though the sculpture repeated itself ad infinitum, it was still a room, not a moment. I opted to remove two of the walls, and just reflect two of the walls back to each other. When I listened to the material strip itself down, I had the sense of walking through. Almost like a surprise, we stumble upon eternity in passing day to day.

The effect remains the same, a slice of eternity that runs in perpetuity. However, now the sculpture will stand more as a gate.

As before, the same challenges remain: finding space for a larger sculpture to build the final work in. It can be quite frustrating as an installation artist and sculpture. It can go from 3D rendering to model, and reconfiguring back in 3D to modeling before the final structure is built. As an artist, it is something I am constantly learning: how to be humbled by the process, realizing that even with my intellectual and emotional understanding of the work I am still also bound by the physical structure.

I’ve finally settled on the structure I will use, not only for its meaning and repurposing like a gate, but its feasibility and simplicity as well.

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Elias Popa was born April 7, 1987 to Romanian immigrants in California. After traveling between his home in Romania and throughout the United States, he continued his travels into his adulthood by moving to China, traveling Southeast Asia, South America and working with refugees. During his travels around the world, his worldview in art was deeply impacted.

“My art expresses the struggle of identity and hope, worship and expressions of life. It explores common world views and challenges them. My work shines a light on the temporal solutions we put in place to replace what we really need deep inside”.

As an installation artist, Elias uses conventional materials such as paper, wire, thread, and clothing to evoke a deeper understanding about social structures. His aim is to solidify abstract ideas about the nuances that make up sociological structures. By doing so, he retrains the eye to build a visual literacy again and treats the art as a fundamental language. He also studied dark room photography for 10 years, as well as writes poetry.

Through his art, Elias started The Human Rights Network, a non for profit organization aimed at “telling stories that change lives.” The organization aims to build narratives through art that can impact social issues and generate activism. He currently works as a curator and manager of the esteemed Waterfall Mansion and Gallery on the Upper East Side, as well as the founder of the Human Rights Network. He resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where he works out of his home. He was the recipient of CFW’s artist vocational intensive, held at Princeton University. He also was selected on an Interfaith and Arts Panel at Columbia University, as well as regular participates in speaking engagements.

Elias Popa

About the Artist

Artist in Residence 2018: Elias Popa Part 1

Artist in Residence 2018: Elias Popa Part 2

Artist in Residence 2018: Elias Popa

The Art of Kintsugi and Sacrifices in Sidewalks

Elias Popa

Other Works By