Jean-Luc Godard

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Sign maker, Artist, and Sculptor: Art of Light Studio, West Granby

Age: 52

Tell about yourself…

I was born in the northeastern Champagne region of France. When I was in college I met an American foreign exchange student from northern Pennsylvania and we eventually got married. After graduating from college as an electrical engineer I worked for 20 years in the corporate world here in the United States. As time went by, I found myself longing for a more creative occupation and so began making signs professionally. This has led me to my current career as a sculptor working with various metals, wood types and lights. My sculptures generally have LED lights imbedded in them.

What inspires you?

I have been drawn to the organic part of nature, especially forms with curves. If you take a walk in the fields or woods you will find that none of the objects you see have straight lines. I like to observe random shapes in nature; break them down in my mind and notice their colors and the way light affects them. I am also very interested in technology, particularly with different ways to embed my sculptures with lighting.

It is my desire to produce carvings with designs that appear unadorned; however they are actually composed utilizing very complex processes. I strive to blend art and technology in a manner such that one does not overpower the other.

Recently I have created a sculpture called “Geometrika.” It is a combination of bent wood shapes next to a circular shaped metal frame that houses a piece of glass that is lit from within with OLED technology. The diffused light source in the glass generates white light that is the closest spectrum to that of the sun. When the sculpture is lit up in the evening it will show the true colors of objects it shines on and there will be no glare from it. This technology was first invented by engineers at Eastman Kodak.

What surprises you?

Somedays I look at a work of art that I have created and wonder how I came up with the whole idea for it. So I ask myself and encourage other artists to try and answer some questions of themselves when they are creating or looking back on their designs. What is the root of the concept? Sometimes it seems to come from one’s subconscious mind, like having a dream at night. Where is that coming from?

And so I feel that it is critical for an artist to be able to answer this question: “What is your creative process?”

I must focus on how I get an inspiration from nature and turn it into a piece that I construct. This puzzled me for about 4 to 5 years. These days it boils down to three words: association, transformation and then expression/execution. Hence I might find a strip of wood in nature and make an association like comparing it to a piece of grass like a palm frond and think of stripes on it. Next I may turn the shape of that material into a glass or wood blade; cut it, shape it and then integrate lighting into it in order to make the transformation from nature to sculpture. Finally, I decide whether or not I have achieved the concept of tall grass blowing in the wind. Was my execution successful? Will my customers see this in the same way? Will it meet their expectations?

Talk about when and why you moved to Granby…

While still working in the corporate world I was affected by the recession of 2008. My company asked me to move from Pennsylvania to Connecticut. I have always had a love for New England because of its strong beauty, the quality of life its people enjoy, and the spirit of entrepreneurship I notice here. There is a sense of simplicity and history in this region. Additionally, there is less pollution in the area than what can be found elsewhere.

Before accepting the change, my wife and I decided that we would hold out until we found an older home. We were willing to live in several different towns. Months passed and my real estate agent finally gave me a call and told me about this particular Granby house built in 1789. I flew out the next day to check it out and really just fell in love with it so much so that I gave a check to the real estate agent immediately. For the past 12 years I have been very happy to have a studio on the property which serves as my workspace. There is a charming brook nearby and it feels like a place where one can keep both mind and body healthy.