Artist Statement

How is the City your studio? "The biggest influence the city has is the people. I have the opportunity to work with residents to build their projects, watch kids filter new enthusiasm for woodworking into the woodshop, and interact with neighborhoods throughout the city with my mobile woodcraft project, “Build a Robot.” I also use the city as a teaching tool and a place to find materials. The city offers density, uniformity, beauty, nature, space, movement, history, and culture."

Featured Artist Portrait by Joe Mazza | Brave Lux Chicago

Media
My personal work is a blend of many crafts, which vary from space and clientele. I like to build functional structures and architectural objects using traditional construction practice and woodcraft detailing. I like to use some level of found material, and exposed fasteners in most of my work. I love to make things, whether it is upgrading the shop with a new jig, building a train set piece for my kids, making a party prop, or designing a custom work for a client…each project is detailed and influenced by availability of material.
Inspiration
In simplest terms, the opportunity and need of a project inspires me. I like to gather all the constraints from the clients, the location, and the budget to develop something within that context. Materials also inspire my work, the availability of material…it is common for a project to take shape because of a piece of wood that I find in an alley. The “Build a Robot” program started with a large donation of lumber scraps and an opportunity to be part of Night out in the Parks. I also love to make toys and art for my children and family.
What's Next?
Late summer and early fall is going to be a busy time. I will be building a sleeping loft/entertainment cave for a couple of graphic artists on the west side. I have a tree-house to build for a family using some pallets. We will be opening Arts in the Parks: The People's Studio in October at Truman Collage. I will continue instructing more classes at Horner Park, while gearing up for the third annual Woodcraft Showcase at South Shore Cultural center next spring. I plan to build a beach house for the centerpiece.
Bio
Eric Boelkens is a Woodcraft Instructor for the Chicago Park District. He teaches individuals from adolescence to seniors. He specializes in creating an open shop environment where he acts as the liaison for participants to develop, budget and build project of all size and complexity. Eric earned a Masters of Architecture degree from The UIC in 2008 and a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2006. He has worked professionally in the architecture and building trades since 1995. He has developed, “Build a Robot,” which is a mobile woodcraft program that coincides with many Night out in the Parks programs.