A Minifigure Sized Terracotta Army: An Interview with Artist Robert W. Darabos

The Terracotta Army, located in Shaanxi province, China, is one of the most iconic art installations mankind has ever seen. Robert W. Darabos, an artist from Saginaw,Michigan, plans to create his own version of the Terracotta Army, with the warriors taking the form of LEGO Minifigures. Having launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, Robert recently spoke about his art, his background, and the Terracotta Army he plans to build:

Tell us a little bit about your background and your interest in art?

Robert: I became serious about being an artist in 2007 when I had my first art show in a small coffee shop. I have since had more then seventy art shows, multiple publications and awards, as well as my work in permanent collections in major museums in the United States, as well as overseas in places like China, Japan, Cyprus, and Malaysia, just to name a few.

What made you decide to embark on such a project?

I actually made six of the LEGO figures at first as a sort of joke. I posted a picture of them on-line to some of my art peers and one of them commented that I should make a terracotta army of them, a literal “thousand strong terracotta army.” I had shrugged off the idea at first, but a few weeks later I thought that I should try to make it happen. Shortly after I decided to make the project, I heard about Kickstarter and checked out their website. I started going through some preliminary ideas about how to actually make the project and how the finished product would look and have since continued to build upon it more and more.

Why choose Kickstarter as a fundraising platform?

Kickstarter is actually the main reason I am making the project. Without it, I would have to come up with a large amount of money in order to buy all the clay I need, as well as paying to fire it. Kickstarter makes it so that I can get other people to ‘donate’ money for my project and in return I give them rewards for their contributions. Rewards for my project range from personal thank yous, to hand-signed books, to pieces of the art itself. It gives people the ability to help out with great ideas and get something in return for it.

What does your represent to you and how do you wish for others to view it?

This piece of art in particular, to me, is a representation of the repetition of the terracotta LEGO. They will be shown in jars, a few hundred or so in each of the ‘jars’, and will work almost purely off of the repetition of the figure. A lot of my recent sculptures tend to work this way, whether I am using a large amount of terracotta LEGO figures, or rocks, or bullets… they are all repeated in great numbers in order to get some point across.

What do you hope to accomplish with your art?

I think I desire what a lot of artists desire from their artwork and that is just to make a living from it. It’s a difficult field to go into. Aside from that, I hope that some of my artwork makes sense to some of the viewers. As an artist, I’m supposed to know what I am making and what it means, or stands for, etc. Truth of the matter is that I don’t always know why I make what I do, and most likely have even less of an idea as to what it means. Some viewers can see a piece of art and tell me more about what it means than I may know myself.

Any plans for the future?

My immediate future plans are to get into graduate school at a good art college and continue my education. I also am hoping to continue using places like Kickstarter to help with some more projects I have been unable to accomplish due to pricing issues.

Robert’s Kickstarter campaign runs until July 25th, 2012 and offers those who pledge to support the project, an opportunity to receive rewards, including their own Minifigure sized Terracotta Warrior.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s