Artist of the Week: Maxwell Runko

February 13, 2014
February 13, 2014 inkmagazine

Artist of the Week: Maxwell Runko

“wa[oil]ter”, 2013 – Mirrors, steel rods, Mod Podge, food coloring, pine. Glass orb holding oil and water, lit by two purple LED’s.

Caroline Zemp
Guest Columnist

VCUarts, as many students are aware, is voted one of the top public art schools in the country. Within that realm, the top sculpture department in the country is located here as well. Those in this department use a unique process of creative thought, and to create physical representations of abstract thoughts. Originally from Long Island, New York, with his later life spent in Richmond, sculpture student Maxwell Runko’s style is diverse and contemplative in nature. Mixed with intricacies of his personal life, he creates a body of work that is sentimental to him, and relatable to viewers. He describes to me in this interview his background as a source of strong inspiration, his methods, and some direction towards his future work.

“Deductive Reasoning”, 2013 – (Glass, white sneakers worn from August 2012 to August 2013, plastic, mylar, grass, water, jewelry string)

“Deductive Reasoning”, 2013 – (Glass, white sneakers worn from August 2012 to August 2013, plastic, mylar, grass, water, jewelry string)

Ink Magazine (IM): So let’s start at the beginning, and kinda go from there. Tell me a little about your upbringing, and when you first started finding interest in art.

Maxwell Runko (MR): Well I was born on Long Island, I was raised there with my older brother, and my twin brother Sam. We moved to Virginia when I was twelve, and we’ve been here ever since… And… when did I first start making art? Well honestly, really as early as I can remember. I always had a knack for it… well not really a “knack” for it. I’ve just always been doing it. My mom was really into crafts, so I crafted things a lot. And I was obsessed with this show called Papi Drew It, and I’d sit there and just draw with this old man for hours.  When it got cancelled, I made my dad draw things and then I’d try to duplicate them.  I didn’t really take any art classes until 10th grade, or really started to “observe” art.
IM: It seems like a lot of your personal and family experiences influenced your work. Can you kind of elaborate on that, as being a source of inspiration for you?

MR: Yeah, really my immediate family… my brother, my mom and dad… they’re all eternally inspiring to me, but also my grandparents, especially my grandmother and her photography work. Her parents owned a funeral home during the depression so they didn’t really feel it. Then she met my grandfather, moved to Hampton Bays, and they lived on a farm, and she suddenly had to do all this domesticated things that she’d document. And that duality, that contrast is something that interests and inspires me. Even in the natural duality of having a twin brother goes into my work significantly.

IM: So duality has become definitely acted as an inspiration that feeds a theme in your work, then. But you’d say that your family drives your work more than a particular artist does?

MR: Yeah, I guess I’m just not really “inspired” by other artists. I’m driven by them… to like, do something better than they did. I’m inspired in the way that their accomplishments make me want to accomplish more in my own work.

“Waffle”, 2012 – Cardboard, homemade joint compound, acrylic paint, Styrofoam, string and balloon.

“Waffle”, 2012 – Cardboard, homemade joint compound, acrylic paint, Styrofoam, string and balloon.

IM: I understand, there’s a lot of confidence in that. So, in regards to other themes that you’re interested right now, what is becoming part of your upcoming work?

MR: Mm, right now something that really intriguing me are souvenirs, and the anthropology and sociology side of actually collecting souvenirs. Its kind of mind blowing, you don’t even realize it’s a science. Materials and materiality is also something a lot of my work deals with, like how materials interact and their connotations. I have almost a sort of fixation with materials. I’ll hoard them and save them all for things. And I’m interested in relationships. Between myself and a lover, myself and my brother, people’s relationship to the art… I like the idea of having some interaction occur, and making people work for something in my art. You can’t just give it ‘em on a silver platter, you know?


IM: And are there ever tendencies in your work to use any sort of motif or recurring message or images?

MR: Honestly the idea of repeating motifs scares me. I feel like you’re stuck. But aside from that, I feel like we as humans go through and do so much that you can’t, or I can’t narrow it all down to one little thing. I don’t let any piece I do lean on another, each one is a step forward. The only dialogue they share is self- improvement in my work. It’s usually just a manifestation of my process.
IM: So you’d say your work not only speaks about your idea behind the project, but also shows the manifestation of the way you work on it then.

MR: Yeah, with a lot of my work, at a certain point during the process I just allow it to become it’s own thing. I can’t control these materials, so it’s like you know you have to surrender yourself to the materials and the way they will direct the final product.

“wa[oil]ter”, 2013 – Mirrors, steel rods, Mod Podge, food coloring, pine. Glass orb holding oil and water, lit by two purple LED’s.

“wa[oil]ter”, 2013 – Mirrors, steel rods, Mod Podge, food coloring, pine. Glass orb holding oil and water, lit by two purple LED’s.

IM: So what sort of future projects do you have coming up, or any ideas you’d like to produce projects from?

MR: In my sculpture right now, I’d like to work on making a series of objects with my twin Sam, We’re gonna focus on making them depict the similarities and differences we have to the viewers. I also want to take a series of images of souvenirs given to me by my grandparents, and then change them completely into another set of objects, colors and materials and then photograph those into a series of their own.


IM: What do you want people to think or feel when they see your work? Is there ever something you’d want people to see in it that might inspire them to create as well?

MR: I guess I’d want my work to be able to do the talking for me. That’s kinda why I like art… I mean I like speaking, but I like it more when my work can speak for itself. Like, the other day a girl came up to me that I had an AFO class with, and told me, “Hey, I just wanted you to know that shoe piece you did, it was one of my favorite pieces you’ve done, and I really loved it.” And its just things like that… I know the work is affecting people. To know they’re grateful for my work, and I am for theirs. That’s all I can ask for at this point.

Shower Curtain

Art work by Maxwell Runko
(Documentation and Installation help from Nicholas Scarpinato and Andi Francis)

Comments (37)

  1. Hi, i think that i noticed you visited my site
    thus i came to go back the prefer?.I’m attempting to to find
    issues to enhance my website!I guess its adequate to use some of your ideas!!

  2. Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the
    challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is useful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. I every time used to read piece of writing in news papers
    but now as I am a user of internet therefore
    from now I am using net for content, thanks to web.

  4. Hi there mates, how is the whole thing, and what you wish
    for to say about this piece of writing, in my view its in fact remarkable in favor of me.

  5. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this superb blog!
    I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and
    adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I
    look forward to new updates and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

  6. Howdy, I believe your blog could be having
    web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues.
    I simply wanted to provide you with a quick
    heads up! Besides that, fantastic website!

  7. Hello I am so grateful I found your web site, I really found you by
    mistake, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else, Nonetheless
    I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a fantastic post
    and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included
    your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read
    much more, Please do keep up the awesome job.

  8. Hello my family member! I want to say that this article
    is amazing, great written and include almost all important infos.
    I’d like to see extra posts like this .

  9. Right now it looks like Drupal is the preferred blogging platform out there right
    now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  10. I used to be recommended this blog by means of my cousin. I am
    now not sure whether this put up is written by means of him as no one
    else recognise such unique approximately my trouble.

    You are wonderful! Thank you!

  11. I am genuinely pleased to glance at this website posts which carries tons of helpful information, thanks for providing such data.

  12. Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?

    A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements
    would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design.
    Thanks a lot

  13. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and the
    rest of the website is really good.

  14. I think what you posted made a ton of sense. But, what about this?
    suppose you added a little information? I am not suggesting your content is not solid., but suppose you added a headline to maybe grab people’s attention? I mean Artist of the Week:
    Maxwell Runko – ink magazine is kinda vanilla. You should look at Yahoo’s front page and
    watch how they create news titles to grab viewers interested.
    You might add a related video or a related
    picture or two to grab people interested about what you’ve got to say.
    In my opinion, it might make your website a little livelier.

  15. Thanks for a very interesting website. Where else may I get that type of info written in such an ideal means? I have a venture that I’m simply now working on, and I’ve been at the look out for such information.

  16. Good day! I just would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have got right here on this post. I am coming back to your website for more soon.

  17. May I simply say what a relief to find an individual who genuinely knows what they are talking about
    over the internet. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    More and more people ought to look at this and understand this side of your
    story. I was surprised that you aren’t more popular given that you most certainly possess the gift.

  18. You’re so awesome! I do not believe I have read a single thing
    like that before. So great to find another person with some unique thoughts on this issue.
    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  19. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make
    this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog
    and would like to find out where u got this from. cheers

  20. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any solutions to help protect against content from being ripped off? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  21. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really
    loved browsing your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing
    on your rss feed and I’m hoping you write again very soon!

  22. Excellent pieces. Keep writing such kind of info on your blog.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hello there, You have performed a great job. I’ll certainly digg
    it and in my view recommend to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this website.

  23. I pay a visit day-to-day some sites and websites
    to read articles or reviews, except this webpage presents quality based content.

  24. Have you ever considered about including
    a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable
    and all. But just imagine if you added some great photos or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this website could certainly be
    one of the best in its field. Awesome blog!

  25. Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better!

    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I’ll forward this information to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  26. I blog often and I truly thank you for your information. Your article has really peaked my interest.
    I am going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new information about once a week.
    I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.