Geek of the Week

Geek of the Week: Artistic vitality burns shiny in Miguel Edwards, sculptor who made Particular Olympics cauldron

Miguel Edwards
Artist Miguel Edwards poses alongside the 13-foot-tall stainless steel cauldron he built for the Flame of Hope at the Opening Ceremony for the Special Olympics USA Games at Husky Stadium in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Miguel Edwards)

Miguel Edwards spent 20 years as an artist working in Seattle. After relocating to Bend, Ore., Edwards’ first project was a piece that again burned bright in Seattle.

Edwards, our latest Geek of the Week, created “Hope Rising,” the cauldron that held the Flame of Hope during the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle. The 13-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture was lit during a moving Opening Ceremony at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium on July 1.

Edwards is primarily a sculptor and photographer. But lately, large-scale and public art has become bigger parts of his business.

But as Seattle itself became bigger, Edwards had to leave the South Lake Union neighborhood where he said he had the last standing “true art studio.” In the heart of Amazonia, Edwards said his old studio is now a hole in the ground and that apartments will take its place.

“I really enjoy doing site-specific installations, video art, and immersive environments,” Edwards said, adding that the experience of working with the Special Olympics was a total honor.

“The courage and determination shown by these athletes was an inspiration to me as I worked on this piece, and I hope that people will notice the love, hard work and diligence that went into making the cauldron. Like the story of so many of these amazing athletes, it is a bit about never giving up.”

Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Miguel Edwards:

“It has been a great joy and satisfaction to make this piece for the Special Olympics,” Miguel Edwards said of the cauldron he created. (Christopher Nelson Photo)

What do you do, and why do you do it? I make cool fun stuff for cities, galleries, movies and the like. I build sculptures, environments, props, and furniture, but these days it is mostly all sculpture. And, I do it because I HAVE TOO … (and I get to!) I love the exploration, creating, and learning in what I do and I’m thankful.

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? I think that some people think of artists as slackers or flakes, but I am a creative entrepreneur and I work seven days a week for months at a time when I need to. There is decent living to be made as an artist but you have to be dedicated, talented, strategic and full of grit. Also the whole “starving artist” thing — so tired of that stereotype. I have never EVER embraced that shit.

Where do you find your inspiration? I find it everywhere! Natural and cultural environments influence my passion for making art and working with visionary individuals. To be able to live off of my imagination, while meeting some of the most hard-working and dedicated individuals who are living for the true dream is something words just can’t describe.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? My camera! My camera completes a lot of my work. So few people get to see the finished product relative to the growing online audience. My camera also gives me angles and insights that my eyes miss. It is absolutely integral to my process. In addition, having good quality images separates the pros from the … not-yet pros.

After many years in Seattle, Miguel Edwards moved his art-making business to Bend, Ore. (Photo courtesy of Miguel Edwards)

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? My workspace is semi-chaotic but I also am still moving in after shutting down my Seattle studio. My studio there was the last standing true art studio in South Lake Union. Now, it’s a hole in the ground. Apartment complexes will take its place. My wife and I bought a place in Bend, Ore., with a big ass shop (and house). I love it! The amount of time I save commuting and stressing is amazing. My shop is far from done but really off to a great start!

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) I wish I had a magic trick for managing life. Work harder, work faster, keep lists, then lists to keep track of your lists, then get too busy to remember where they are and wing it! I guess I have found the exercise of writing comprehensive, sorted lists gets enough in my brain that I can wing it from there.

Mac, Windows or Linux? I am def a Mac guy, though I’ve always rocked an Android. On a MacBook, you can load whatever you want. I am not the crazy power user but I do like to have a little more control of my daily device.

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? I like Picard for sure but I would probably go with Kirk, he was a bit more hands-on and rough and tumble … then there’s Shatner’s music … no comment.

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? I might be inclined to say Transporter because I haul so many things, tools supplies etc. but, c’mon! Time machine! The things I could do back then with what I know now? I’d be retired! Not that I have any interest in quitting what I am doing! Speaking of time machines, have you seen the movie “Safety Not Guaranteed?” Myself, and a crew I assembled, made the time machine for that. The movie received the Best Screenplay at Sundance in 2011.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … I would narrow down my ideas. I have a couple patents I am working on as well as an art/hospitality business.

I once waited in line for … Beer. I hate lines, I am very bad at lines, after years in the production and entertainment business, and coming in the side door, I have a hard time standing in line to come in the front door.

Your role models: First and foremost, my dad. He is a true badass. In his “free time,” he built houses, looms, fixed everything in sight. To top it off, he’s strong, sensitive, and inspired. Jack Edwards is an inventor, nuclear and mechanical engineer, fire chief, Navy man, and a true analytical thinker and role model for many.
I also love Tesla. I wish his missing papers would suddenly reappear.

Greatest game in history: “Castle Wolfenstein” on the original Mac.

Best gadget ever: The phone I have in five years with the camera that does 95 percent of what I need not 75 percent, f2 lens (or faster), HDR with a 12 stop range, optical stabilization, Raw plus jpeg, probably at least five lenses, somewhat like the light L16 (which I have not used ). I would also like to have some solid 3D scanning.

First computer: Apple IIe.

Current phone: Edge 7.

Favorite app: That’s a moving target, for sure! I love Trello, Evernote, but I might have to go with Instagram. I know. But as a visual artist, I love the endless feed of inspiring imagery. I’m a very visual person — being a visual artist and all — and I just love having this self-curated inspiration on tap.

Favorite cause: I really enjoyed working with the Special Olympics. It’s such a wonderful organization. The feeling in Husky Stadium for the Opening Ceremony was magical and exuberant. I hope I can retain that feeling for a long time. Also, I recently completed my term as president of the Center on Contemporary Art where I was a board member for at least eight years. Next up is homelessness and working with Elysian Brewing and the Seattle Seahawks later this month on a fundraiser. I plan to build a sculpture especially for their live auction on July 14.

Most important technology of 2018: I have been moving and working too many hours to pretend to have a bead on this.

Most important technology of 2020: That’s a pretty wide net, but I’m excited about exploring more AR and 3D printing in my work — with some flamethrowers and hydraulics for good measure.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Find what you love and do it till you drop! Work hard and take care of your friends and neighbors, double down on inclusive support, inspiration, teamwork, empathy, and grit. Build the world that you want and deserve. Not just for yourself but for your community.

Website: Miguel Edwards

Twitter: @artistmiguel

Instagram: Miguel Edwards

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