Sculptor Isaac Duncan III took an indirect path from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to Chattanooga. He completed a bachelor of fine arts degree at University of Notre Dame and a master of fine arts at the University of Kentucky. Between degrees, he worked for an economic development agency in Benton Harbor, Mich. Mr. Duncan came to Chattanooga in 2004 to work for sculptor John Henry.
The owner of Duncan Sculpture and Services on Watauga Street, Mr. Duncan commissions, exhibits and enters his art into competitions.
Q: Where does your art come from?
A: My sculpture comes from a whole bunch of places. I create nonobjective artwork, which is funny because they're very objective. They're based off of my own philosophy of creating and how I put things together. I like to challenge the fundamentals of sculpture. When I'm creating, I have a specific vocabulary I work in. I always create pieces that create a sense of motion; they're not kinetic. I used to create pieces that were just one simple unit, but I've gotten into creating modular unit pieces.
Q: Which artists do you admire or want to emulate?
A: I don't want to emulate anybody, but there are people who I respect, such as Richard Hunt, who I consider a mentor or an "art father." I respect our local sculptor John Henry. You have people like Mark di Suvero in New York. You have the grandfather of modern sculpture, David Smith. There's Marcel Duchamp. I come from those lines of sculptors. The ones who are dead are the ones who paved the way for what I'm doing. The ones who are alive are the ones who are pushing the boundaries. They keep me honest.