More than 1,000 pounds of clay is being tossed across a Costa Mesa artist’s studio against a wooden amalgamation of nails and wire, eventually taking the shape of a woman’s figure.
Alrik Yuill, 33, is busy sculpting his latest piece, “In Bloom: The Girl and the Music.”
On Saturday, the Costa Mesa native and Laguna College of Art + Design graduate will be showing the “in progress” state of his piece at his studio on Placentia Avenue.
Much like his work, Yuill stands out. His denim jacket is spray painted with the words “space” and “time” on the back.
He said it reminds him that “reality is really there and there’s more to being alive than just matter.”
His hair, which is curly and blond, and restrained in a tight ponytail, has a life of its own much like the rawness in both his paintings and his sculptures. Each medium has distinct aesthetics — his paintings more abstract and surreal, and his sculptures more realistic and romantic — but they are tied together by what he calls this “common thread.”
A back door leads to a shaping room where Yuill, a surfer, shapes boards that he sells in his spare time. His sister and publicist, Valkyrie Yuill, calls her brother “a jack of all trades and a master of some.”
Until last year Yuill had been working for nearly a decade out of a Canyon Acres Drive studio. Moving his studio away from the nature-infused environment in Laguna Beach to the industrial landscape of Costa Mesa’s Westside has influenced his work, he said.
A sculptor since the age of five, he remembered when his parents first bought him Play-Doh that he used to create the Incredible Hulk. Impressed, his parents went to an arts store to buy him oil clay and Sculpey.
In 2005, he graduated from LCAD, where he studied sculpture, drawing, painting and fine art. Yuill was recognized at the school’s 50th anniversary Juried Alumni All Media Exhibition in November.
“I like that it’s this physical, tangible thing,” he said about the medium. “It’s cathartic in a way to take something from the realms of imagination and thought, and solidify it.”
He also enjoys moving massive pieces of mud around, he said, which is evident by the lump of clay on an adjacent studio wall.
“I missed that time,” he said.
On Saturday he’ll reveal the many stages and forms a sculpture takes until its eventual casting in bronze or plaster, a process that fascinates him.
“I love these moments where the piece is in clay,” he said. “It lasts so long when it’s in bronze, thousands of years. This is a fleeting moment where the process is alive.”
Clay shrinks and expands due to moisture, which means he has to continually spray it down. “I like to think that it’s breathing a bit,” he said.
His studio is often a gathering place for the local arts scene.
A mic stands in a back room, sculptures on the sides and canvases propped against walls, a place where musicians such as Matt Costa have jammed among Yuill and his friends.
The homegrown talent said he hopes to become more involved in the local arts communities — such as Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach — developing their unique artistic and cultural narratives. He wants to encourage talented children the same way he was.
If You Go
What: “In Bloom: The Girl and The Music,” a sculpture in progress
Where: Alrik Yuill Fine Art at the Fact-Ory, 1981 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa
When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday