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Lucas Elmer Gasperik Brings Bronze to Life

Sculpture and Foundry Staff Research Associate/UCSC Alumnus, 2011 Kresge, Art Major
Lucas Elmer Gasperik

As a child, Lucas Elmer Gasperik thought that pursuing an honorable profession such as being a fireman or a chef was what he should aspire to, but then art took hold of his imagination. Raised in Mid City Los Angeles along with his two brothers, his parents encouraged their boys to enjoy the outdoors and the ocean, so surfing and skating became his favorite pastimes while he was studying humanities and art in high school. From there, he ventured up to UC Santa Cruz to focus more directly on art, and through the work-study program got a job as the painting and drawing assistant in the Art Department.
During his freshman year, Lucas became intrigued with the program at the foundry but, due to lack of resources, it had to be shut down and didn’t reopen until a couple of years after he graduated. When he heard that the foundry was going to start up again, he volunteered to help out in exchange for being able to cast sculptures. He also apprenticed with foundry instructor Sean Monaghan at Monaghan’s own Santa Cruz studio and foundry, Bronze Works, and gained much valuable insight into the process. “I knew that this was a special art form that would always be unanimously appreciated so I wanted to excel in it,” he says.
Lucas’s first official UC Santa Cruz staff position was in the Recreation Department where he was a surfing instructor and then three years later, he  also joined the Art Department as a technician in the foundry. He discovered that he loved working with students and motivating them to follow their passions.

Undulation #3 by Lucas Elmer Gasperik
“I transitioned student jobs into staff jobs by tuning my skills to the various requirements of each role,” he says. “In the couple of years between graduating and getting hired in the Art Department, I volunteered here as a print studio monitor and foundry assistant. I was inspired by the staff research associates in the Art Department shops because they seemed like the real deal, working artists. Then, when a staff position became available, I made sure to put my name in the hat. After wearing many hats, I recently became the Sculpture and Foundry Staff Research Associate, which is my dream job because I get to stay close to my passion of art making and experimentation with various materials and techniques. Through surf lessons and art instruction I get to share my experience and privilege with my students.”

Whaling Ship (Bird's-eye) by Lucas Elmer Gasperik
Lucas loves creating his art from bronze and has exhibited locally and in galleries in Los Angeles, Big Sur and the Northern California town of Bolinas, known for its thriving artist community. He’s excited about the new artistic approaches that he’s applying to traditional processes, like combining neon with bronze in a sculpture. “Bronze is the perfect medium for depicting the movement of water because each sculpture begins in a liquid wax form before it is molded, burned out, and the metal poured in its place.”

Over the last seven years, during his time off in the summer, he’s been working as a commercial salmon fisherman in the sustainable fishery of Bristol Bay, Alaska. “I am grateful for the adventure at sea and the monotony of the work as a mental reset each year,” says Lucas. “I get to reflect on my life back home while waiting for the fish to show up for three to four weeks, and then when they do, it is hard labor for a couple weeks before the end of the season when I get to come back home to this much easier lifestyle.”
Wild Caught by Lucas Elmer Gasperik
Lucas also creates pieces in the woodshop and the print studio on campus and likes to use discarded raw materials such as wood, metal and paper. “With my artwork, I try to inspire awe of nature and also the ingenuity of those who came before us. I am usually referencing the wild seas because I live nearly half my life on the water, surfing, commercial fishing, diving, or boating and I like to share those experiences with others through my art,” he says. “Through this human connection revolving around the wild ocean we are reminded of just how precious a resource we share here and spanning across our planet.”

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