GWEN IFILL: For those stations not taking a pledge break, we have a profile of a larger-than-life sculptor. Our story comes from producer Emily Goldberg of MN Original on Twin Cities Public Television in Minnesota.
ZORAN MOJSILOV: I am Zoran Mojsilov. I’m sculptor.
People ask me, what kind of sculptor?
There’s no wood sculptor versus stone sculptor. You’re a sculptor working with a space and the material. So I’m a sculptor with any materials we touch.
I was born in Belgrade in Yugoslavia. Now it’s Serbia.
Always worked with wood as a kid, you know, and then just slightly starting — people start to appreciate it.
First my colleagues making swords and knives and all these violent tools. And then later I start doing wrestling, Greco-Roman style, then I made the trophy of the two wrestlers.
My coach was the first champion of the Europe, and I said hmm, I’m going to make Zoran Mojsilov champion of the world, and I carve out of the wood.
My ego is big, even as a kid.
I have to include humans in my work because that’s who I am and who we are. So it’s about humans and nature and that relationship. Sometimes humans in nature, sometimes humans in the city, sometimes humans in the war, in love, and pretty much every day what I’m doing — that’s my inspiration.
And I am 24 hours open to any suggestions or whatever nature throw at me.
As not working hard, I would take it.
I said to young artist, watch what you wish to yourself because the wish might come true because look at what happened to me. I am for life in prison, and I’m innocent. So breaking stones, it’s not fun, but I’m still having some fun, even on this cold day.
See, these hard materials like wood, stone, and this. I like to kind of challenge them physically, not for too long. Everybody said, my back, and this, and that — it’s giving up. It was about 18,000 pounds when it came here. Now it’s more like 12, or 10. Put him on diet so he lost lots of weight. So it’s more like kind of still being some little bully in dolly and pushing these materials around, and they push me back. Granite’s definitely, granite, it’s tough to bully granite. It’s not that fun.
So if you look inside, you can see the line in the stone, you know, and then I try to follow sometimes this line because this stone has black and red. It’s called rainbow, from Morton, Minn.
It’s some kind of play, more play than really thinking about is it hard or not. When you play and it’s a game, you are part of it. You don’t know even if you’re hurting or not, or it’s hard, or this–you just keep playing. And then people come and write you check for that.
So what more you can have it? It’s America.
I start doing work for a restaurant, Gardens of Salonica, and they would say make a coat rack, I would make them coat rack. We need fountain, I’ll make fountain. And it started going like this, little by little, and then slowly the other pieces, they like some of my other pieces, they become parts for outside, inviting people in. And now it’s like little museum of my work.
This is my boss, Mama Anna. She’s involved with all this good cooking so I cannot be starving artist because of her.
MAMA ANNA: Yes, we work very hard together.
ZORAN MOJSILOV: This piece you cannot touch with a finger. It’s only with the feet. Originally with this came some big brass, kind of cowboy style, but then Lazaros said it’s ugly, he wanted something more ugly. Balkan way ugly, you know. Maybe some people, they don’t like Greek food, and some people, they don’t like my art, but that doesn’t mean it’s good or bad, it’s just their taste.
My favorite is charcoal on paper. It’s really kind of, very primitive. Then there are no secrets, as I like anything in my work. You can see the chisel marks. You can see my fingerprints. You don’t have to ask me how is anything made. You just look and you can — all is there. That’s why the drawing, I don’t make exactly as a blueprint for the sculpture. I make them as idea for the sculpture, but then halfway through, I turn them into the drawing also by itself. So if it’s an idea on the drawing, it’s close enough. It doesn’t need to be blueprints of what I want to make it.
This is the hanging, what I have already here, and then I going to exaggerate the natural cracks with a chain saw, all of them. And then I’m going to patch it up with this railroad thing, what I found in the back of the building. Maybe this way it’s even better. So there would be like patches closing this wound, as we all have some, dragging some wound in our lives. I like it.
Let’s try again. Yes! I think like this.
Next spring I’m going to come back and do the touch-ups.
Let’s go! Because it’s made in USA!
Look at this. My yoga teacher is going to be happy. I think it’s going be here. I am estimating 200 years.
GWEN IFILL: You can see an extended version of the story by following a link on our website.