Tom Nussbaum

Jul 18th, 2019

Tom Nussbaum


Tom Nussbaum is known for a variety of work including drawings, paper cuts, prints, sculpture, children’s books, animations, functional design objects, and site-specific commissions.

His sculpture and works on paper have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States. Since 1987 he has completed over thirty site-specific commissions located in a variety of public settings including public plazas, train stations, schools, hospitals, and environmental centers.

Nussbaum has been a visiting artist and lecturer at colleges and universities, and has served on many peer review panels and juries. He has been awarded two New Jersey State Individual Artist Fellowships and is a three time MacDowell Colony Fellow.

He currently works from his studios in East Orange, NJ, and Burlington Flats, NY.

Tell us about the images that we are featuring?

In my current work I am exploring connections between the human figure and forms found in architecture, art, nature, vessel-making, and textile traditions from around the world.  The sculptures reference the architectural frameworks of buildings and towers, as well as container forms like vessels and baskets, and suggest the human figure.

How does technology affect your work?

A lot of the work uses patterns of hubs and spokes. These patterns are typically found in the every day technology of communication networks such as the internet.

What are you working on right now?

A series of free standing painted steel sculptures and wall mounted art works that reference American quilts and fabric patterns.

Why did you start drawing?

I’m primarily a sculptor, and I mostly use drawing as a way to make notes for what I want to build in three dimensions.

What does the future hold for your work?

If you find out, please let me know! But seriously, I think of my work as an exploration of unknown territory, and though I know what I’m doing as I lead this expedition, I’m never quite sure where it will go.

How do you determine if a work has been a success?

It feels successful when I build something that feels like a true expression of myself. Though I do need to sell my work to survive, making money is not my goal, and as far as I’m concerned, is not a measure of success in art.

What other forms of art inform your work?

My work is informed by the history of abstract art in both painting and sculpture, and a formal exploration of color and form.  I also have a deep interest in non-academic creative practices such as (so called) folk art sculpture, sign painting, quilt making, indigenous architecture and non-western object making traditions.