Thoughts on Impermanence: My conversation with artist Armin Mersmann

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My path crossed with Armin Mersmann in 2006 as part of an art class I took at Northwood University that was hosted by Midland Center for the Arts. A four-part series with a focus on different mediums, we learned a week-long intensive in photography, drawing, sculpture and mixed mediums, with Mersmann leading the drawing segment.

Artistically, my talents aren’t likely ever going to be in graphite, though I’m a solid candidate as a Pictionary partner – supremely functional, quick on my feet, with occasional moments of stick-figure brilliance – but not skilled and definitely not pretty.

In his segment, he taught the class how to draw a realistic eye. I happened to be the model for the instruction, so I also have a Mersmann relic of my own eye… Armin Mersmann’s five-minute eye.

While drawing didn’t prove to be my artistic and creative medium, I did walk away from the class with a simple picture of a green pepper, roughly cut in half, made with thousands of dots from a fine tip Sharpie marker – which still hangs in my house – and the creative spark for something, even though I wasn’t quite sure what my context would be quite yet.

If you’ve ever met Armin, you’re keenly aware that he is a deeply interesting individual – even though he may not agree. He is artistically brilliant, notably humble, visibly contemplative and readily admits his OCD – all of which contribute equally to his craft.

The mark of any great artist, musician, writer or creative is not only in the work itself, but it’s ability to make you feel and find meaning from the work on your own. His work speaks for itself in the gut-wrenchingly real and beyond picture worthy pieces he creates with a mere pencil and a few thousand hours of work.

Over the course of an hour, we discussed his residency work, his life-long study of art, the passion for educating, learning from and creating with his students. But the part that got me thinking well beyond our time together was his perspective of mortality, decay and various other things returning to nature – his inspiration for Impermanence, the upcoming gallery show from his year-long residency at the famed Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center in Cincinnati.

While his work is something I could study for hours in awe of his uncanny patience and attention to detail, the inspiration behind his work spurred so much thought, glasses of wine, more thought and introspection in me far beyond the confines of the article. Much like the art class many years ago, it stirred something in me, of which I’m not yet certain of the context.

So, with the mark of any great artist – he got me thinking. And I’m not quite sure what the impact will be yet.

You can read the entire article from the interview, Thoughts on Impermanence: A conversation with artist Armin Mersmann here.

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