INSTALLATION: JEFFREY RALSTON FOR OAK

Jeffrey Ralston is a New York City based, events installation artist. He recently made custom installations for the OAK boutiques -28 Bond st. in NoHo & 55 Nassau in Brooklyn. Mellany Sanchez, our resident blogger, asked Ralston some questions about himself and his work. The interview and images of the installation follow…

PORTRAIT OF JEFF RALSTON BY ESPATRICK.

What is your name and what do you do? 
My name is Jeffrey Owen Ralston, and I generally make large scale installations for events. Regular gigs I make work for are with SPANK, Mister Saturday Night, and for Xanadude.  It’s pretty awesome to have these regular events support my work because it allows me to have access to a variety of giant second studios (or at least it feels this way), to experiment and push the pieces in new directions so that they hopefully become more engaging with their audience.       

Where are you from? What is your relationship with New York like?   
I was born in Atlanta, GA, but grew my childhood in Manchester, CT. before moving back to Atlanta for middle and High School.   I remember while living in CT, taking numerous family trips to NYC, and loving the sounds of ambulances zipping by us as we entered  the Bronx.   We would stay at a company condo somewhere near E57th, which was super high up and had a tiny little balcony.   I distinctly remember eating a doughnut one morning with my Father on this balcony and telling him, “This is where I am going to live when I am older”.    He said “Noooo” …   but I kinda remember it coming across jokingly and proud.   Anyhow, in 1995, I entered as a freshman at Pratt Institute, and have lived in Brooklyn ever since.

How do your works function? What keeps the works alive and what does that functionality do to add, or subtract from your art?    

For the inflatables, they stay inflated using fan power.   Sometimes, it is fun to have the fans pulse on and off which gives the illusion that they are “breathing” or “melting”.    I love to do that trick towards the end of a party and watching the crowd.   It’s pretty subtle when it happens, so most people have a very confused tripped out look on their face, and then you see a huge smile when they finally realize. That is very gratifying.

What inspired your work – Bond st. store specific? Brooklyn store specific?
For Bond Street, my inspiration came from the look of camouflage military netting, and the function of fish net hoes.   I wanted the inflatables to have layers to them, like they were wearing sweaters or something, but able to be slipped on and off.
My inspiration for Brooklyn was this image I have in my brain of when a whale might be lifted from an aquarium to the ocean, and they use these giant cranes with a tarp to lift it.   I like the idea of this large mass being supported and showing its weight out of water.  Originally I planned for each of the 4 inflatables to be identical, but was pleased when they each took on their own life.   I find them to be a little dirty and gross – but I like that-   like a whale out of water.

How do you feel OAK fits your design aesthetic? 
It was really fun trying to come up with something for each of the stores.   I was super fortunate to be granted from OAK to do “what ever you want”.     That helped a lot.   I never felt constricted or limited, and totally supported and trusted with what ever design choices I was making or deleting.   I respect and appreciate that.

What are some of your vices? 
Eating Ice Cream daily.

Whats the best advice you’ve been given? 
To stop and breathe before entering a door.
 
 
  
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