After Nine Years In The Forest, Sculptor’s Work Melds Technology And Nature

Feb 15, 2019

Jean Michel Dissake was an economics student at the University of Douala in Cameroon when he made a radical shift: He left school and spent the next nine years living in the forest. He spent his days interacting with the trees and the river, and this deep connection with nature spawned an artistic passion and a career as a sculptor. 

His mixed-media pieces meld wires, computer parts and other detritus of modern life with roots, vines, termite dust and fabric, forcing a conversation about how humans interact with the primordial and the mundane.

Host Frank Stasio talks with artist Jean Michel Dissake about his creations, his inspiration, and his efforts to inspire his students to connect with the natural world. Steven Nohren, a freshman design studies student at North Carolina State University, joins the conversation to share his experience working with Dissake. They also speak with artist and art educator Marriott Sheldon, who is making a documentary about Dissake and his work.

Dissake's residency was sponsored by North Carolina State University's Arts Village program and the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, which will exhibit his work next year. Dissake will lead a workshop at The Scrap Exchange in Durham on Feb. 24 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The public is invited to view Dissake’s work and meet the artist at a reception at The Scrap Exchange on Saturday, March 2, at 4 p.m. Dissake will also participate in a community dialogue on art, culture and ecology at Anchorlight in Raleigh on March 3 at 4 p.m.