George Herms


I'm at my friend's house in Topanga Canyon where, for the last five years, he's allowed me to work in the downstairs room of what I refer to as the castle. Outside there is a lovely creek that runs all year long and provides the constant sound of water. I'm sitting on a bench where I make small sculptures. It is out-of-doors and things get rained on and rusted. Behind my right hand are newsprint papers stained with coffee. They are an example of the "grounds" that I mount objects on for assemblage works. Out here I'm surrounded by objects that catch my eye. And when they catch my eye I mount them so they can be passed on to the rest of the world. Immediately under my right hand is a rectangle that is the side of a can. That can is known as a "tip-resistant" can. I, of course, have mounted it tipped with a paintbrush sticking out. Next to it is a rusted oval on a piece of wood on a blue circle—that is a completed sculpture. Below the bench there is a green can. Since this photograph was taken, that can has come out from under the bench and been mounted as though it were a microphone, and it has gone into the world as a sculpture called Mike. The pieces of wood under my left hand I inherited from John McCracken. John passed away recently. He was a friend who gave me that wood, which he one time used to make his planks that leaned against the wall. So there are gifts that become raw materials for sculpture. There are objects that are rusting away winter after winter and are becoming more beautiful. And where I am sitting on this bench, I am facing the most beautiful view of nature, sky, the stream, big rocks, and trees. It is almost completely not manmade. It's the inspiration of our great teacher, mother nature.