Spotlight On: John Herasymiuk

Spotlight On: John Herasymiuk

John Herasymiuk

HWFF/Laura Neeley

Who the heck is John Herasymiuk? Where did that last name come from?

John Herasymiuk

My last name is Ukrainian, but I was born in Orange, Texas.

We moved to New Orleans when I was 6 and I lived there until I was 33.

Laura Neeley

Where are you now?

John Herasymiuk

I currently live about 50 miles north of New Orleans. I needed more space to do what I do. My studio is bigger than my house. I do a lot of work in the wee hours, and there are no neighbors right on top of us out here.

My wife Nikole, and our children like living in the woods.

Laura Neeley

What art do you create in the studio?

John Herasymiuk

I work in many different mediums, all sculptural, along with some furniture building and restoration of art and antiques to supplement my income. I’ve been doing a lot of work in foam in the last year and a half.

Almost all of my work is commissioned. I’m given a theme, and cut loose.

Laura Neeley

What made you start exploring foam applications?

John Herasymiuk

I was asked about a large rooftop sculpture, for an individual, and there was a weight requirement, so I started doing research on materials that would fit the requirement, and EPS fit the bill perfectly.

Laura Neeley

She is amazing.

Mermaid Sculpture by John Herasymiuk

John Herasymiuk

“Lasiren”. The New Orleans Healing Center sculpture was originally going to be done in porcelain, but the issue of being in a public space and possible breakage came up, again the EPS foam was a good solution.

Laura Neeley

What was your inspiration for that?

John Herasymiuk

This one was spontaneous in every sense—no sketch—and the only layout on the block was the centering of the base, because it was being put into a bowl-like basin.

What are her dimensions?

John Herasymiuk

She’s about 90″ x 49″ x 39″. She’s made with 1.5 lb foam, and about 1/8″-3/16″ thick polyurea coating.

Laura Neeley

You did her all by hand?

John Herasymiuk

Yes, HWFF Industrial tools, and a few assorted rasps. A bit of sandpaper.

I used the 2′ x 4′ Compound Bow Cutter and the Industrial 32” Router to remove the larger sections, and the Industrial Hot Knife with a shape-able wire blade for the rest.

Laura Neeley

Tell me just a bit about the Bird Totems.

Bird Totem sculptures by John Herasymiuk
Owl Totem by John Herasymiuk

John Herasymiuk

The Bird Totems have been an adventure. The patron who asked for them wanted birds, and had been to South America and seen the work of another artist that he liked very much. He already had two other pieces that I had done. He wanted the verticality, size and sensuality of the birds to be evident. I sketched out a few and he gave the go ahead. It was the first time that I had to deal with structural engineers, wind load studies, and all of that.

John Herasymiuk

Laura Neeley

You used foam. Why?

John Herasymiuk

There was a weight restriction because they were going onto a rooftop. They had to weigh less than 60 pounds each. These are 84″ x 24′ x 24″, so 1 lb density foam and a steel armature that also serves as an attachment to the roof was the answer. They weighed in at an average of 48 pounds.

Laura Neeley

If you were going to give a young artist a golden nugget of advice what would it be?

John Herasymiuk

I’d tell the young artist, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and to try new mediums and ways to express yourself. Learn to let go of your work once you finish a piece—it belongs not to you, but to the world.

Bird totem sculpture
Bird totem sculpture