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Invading Daniel Kornrumpf’s “Personal Space”

Daniel Kornrumpf on West Beach, New Bedford.

Daniel Kornrumpf is an artist with a capital “A” – but without the angst and drama. He’s so self-effacing that this writer didn’t even know he was an artist until well over a year after I met him. I found out about his work as an artist in the best possible way; he’s got a reputation that precedes him.

To my surprise, I discovered that Dan is quite well-known for his meticulous fiber work. Then, like a cascading series of revelations, found out that he builds furniture and teaches art on the collegiate level. In fact, he was voted “Most Popular” instructor at his college last year.

Dan washed up on our shores in the same tide that brought Groundwork! co-founder Dena Haden back to the area. Both studied art in Philadelphia, PA – the state where Dan was born and raised. Now a Massachusetts resident, he’s part of the constellation of creatives that New Bedford has been attracting for several years.

It turns out that Dan the artist has one more trick up his sleeve to share with us. In addition to the fiber and furniture, he’s aggressively applied his ability to an ongoing, large-scale portraiture series – which makes up “Personal Space,” the Groundwork! Gallery show opening this Friday, September 22 with a free and open to the public reception from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. here at 1213 Purchase Street.

In advance of the show, I sent Kornrumpf some questions to help unwrap the enigma that is this stealth artist….

You work with fiber and also make furniture – but “Personal Space” is a portrait series that highlights your work with the brush. What does this medium allow you to do that working with fabric or wood doesn’t?

Painting is so much more unpredictable. The trial and error of mixing colors and working wet-on-wet offers the opportunity for these unintended moments of discovery which, when it happens successfully, is very satisfying.

Your canvases are large-scale yet you’re known for intricate, meticulous fiber work. Is the painting a chance for you to be a wild man?

Painting is a lot more freeing. With painting the figure, I think I naturally tend to depict them at the size that they exist, measuring their features and anatomy at a one-to-one ratio. I enjoy the way that the life-size scale of the figurative paintings can sometimes trick me into thinking that someone is in the room with me.

How long has the “Personal Space” series been in the works?

I started planning this show last winter so I had the spring and summer to prepare and create new work.

You are also an art teacher as well as a practicing artist. How does teaching affect your work in the studio?

I teach Art Foundation courses which concern themselves with formal issues like composition, balance, contrast, and line quality. It has pushed me to question my own formal decisions when it comes to my compositions and the ways in which I divide up space in a painting.

What do you like about teaching?

My favorite part of teaching is watching students understand a particular concept. You can see it in their face, the moment their brain makes the connection to an idea. There’s a certain excitement that gets expressed. I teach to witness those moments of true learning.

How do you turn it all off when you’re outside of the studio or classroom?

It’s really hard to stop thinking about teaching. It stays with me all the time. However, I am obsessed with rock climbing and I climb weekly at Carabiners. That is one activity that doesn’t allow me to think about anything else other than what’s right in front of me.

Finally, how’s it feel to have your own show at Groundwork! Creative Space – the center of gravity in New Bedford!

I couldn’t be happier showing at Groundwork! right now, not only because it is one of the best contemporary venues to show in New Bedford but because I’ll be moving in to a new studio at the new downtown Co-Creative Space next month. I wanted to introduce my work to this community in hopes to start a larger project, painting portraits of the people that make up this passionate, tight-knit, do-it-yourself city.

Steven Froias