Pittsburgh collage artist Seth Clark brings his love of deteriorated architecture to Philly, in…

Pittsburgh collage artist Seth Clark brings his love of deteriorated architecture to Philly, in collage form

The South Philly Review caught up with Clark before the opening night of us exhibition on Oct. 26 to talk about where he came up with the idea and why he developed an interest in deteriorated architecture in the first place.

Seth Clark in his studio. Photo submitted by Seth Clark.

For Seth Clark, architecture served a purpose for more than just shelter. It was an artform. He could have become an architect, but instead he chose a different path: collage art.

Clark’s work is currently on exhibition at South Philly’s Paradigm Gallery in Queens Village. Clark, who earned his BFA in Graphic Design from the Providence at the Rhode Island School of Design, uses mixed media (mostly paper and wood) to create collages of deteriorating architecture. It’s an attempt to create an enhanced appreciation for everyday urban design for the commuter — something that can be especially enlightening to any city dweller young or old. The South Philly Review caught up with Clark before the opening night of his exhibition on Oct. 26 to talk about where he came up with the idea and why he developed an interest in deteriorated architecture in the first place.

So, Fragmentations. Where did the idea come from?

Well, my work has focused around deteriorating architectural forms for a while now, and I think those things are a really interesting subject matter because architecture is the largest things that we build as humans and we’re trying to make buildings very permanent. I like studying the way they fall apart and the struggle to keep things updated and balanced.

What drew you to deteriorated and abandoned architecture in the first place?

It actually came from [making] collage[s] and using different pieces of trash, and collaging those in the way I do served that subject matter really well. I studied graphic design in college and got out of school and always wanted to dive into the more fine art realm of things. I didn’t have too much money for art supplies but these scraps I could find all around me worked well, and just studying the facades of buildings and the crumbling wall and a piece of wallpaper and those types of textures worked well.

Have you ever explored abandoned architecture around the city or in other places?

Yeah, for sure. I do a little bit of that and I try to travel and I stop on long road trips and look at old barns and things like that. And obviously urban decay is in the realm of what I love looking at and working with.

So why the name Fragmentations?

A lot of my earlier work was focusing on a single abandoned house or a single building almost portrait style. And now as I get into the work, I guess I’m zooming in a little more and sort of focusing more on how things fall apart and break down, and also there’s a body of work in the show called the mass series and those pieces are really — sort of if you imagine like a piece of paper and crumpling that in on itself into a really tight ball. It’s like trying to find the soul of a building or something like that. So instead of just looking at the entirety of a building, just sort of taking bits and pieces of it and sort of unfolding those elements.

The press release says that Fragmentations is “less representational” than your previous works. What exactly does that mean?

It’s really just that instead of a clear building, it’s more of a zoomed in or alternate reality of the building where a piece of the building or — I look at a lot of photos of natural disasters and explosions and things and taking some piece of rubble from a building or a fragment and focusing more on the part of it instead of the whole.

What do you hope people get out of viewing your work?

I hope people look at the buildings around them more whether it’s for preservation purposes or just recognizing the beauty among all of the decay and sort of wearing down — especially in urban areas.

Fragmentations us running from now until Dec. 6 at the Paradigm Gallery. For more information visit paradigmarts.org.