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YRB Interview: Sam Ostroff

By Stephanie Amy Collazo

Having grown up around metal and machinery, it’s only natural that artist Sam Ostroff now works in metal. Though in his professional life he works more in the direction of architecture, creating staircases and railings, it is his personal work that we are interested in here.

Like many of the artists we have interviewed about their involvement in the steampunk lifestyle prior to the Mobilis in Mobili exhibition at the Wooster Street Social Club, Ostroff didn’t know that there was a specific genre for this type of work.

“I think it’s a coincidence that the work I have fits into the steampunk movement,” Ostroff said. “I don’t intentionally make stuff that fits into that, but I agree that it works. It’s cohesive.”

The piece by Ostroff displayed in the WSSC shop is titled “Electric Chair #3,” and if you can’t guess by the name, it is the third in a series of works. The piece is made of salvaged stainless steel, antique leather and mechanical bits the artist has gathered over the years. Unfortunately, it’s still under construction, having been started approximately eight years ago, and is currently not for sale.

“It’s definitely at a point that I’m ready to present it now. This chair has these things coming out of the headpiece. I want to add more things that look like they would be painful, but also maybe really pleasure-ful at the same time,” said Ostroff.

When talking about his work of art, Ostroff expressed that though it is an electric chair, he does not wish for it to be associated with capitol punishment but rather an intensity. With his art he is compelled to make things that are both frightening and beautiful at the same time.

“I feel really intense inside and I need to get that out,” Ostroff said. “I honestly don’t know, maybe it’s some kind of time machine. I’ve been in therapy my whole life and I’m still trying to figure out why I feel the need to make these.” [Laughs]

Struggling to understand his own work, he finds each piece very personal and does not often speak about or show his pieces. If you would like to catch an exclusive glimpse of “Electric Chair #3” you have until January 14 to visit the Wooster Street Social Club’s exhibition.

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